A volunteer secretary has been charged with ste-aling more than $500,000 from a New Jersey church to pay her car loans, cell phone bills and even her own wedding. Taisha Smith-DeJoseph, 43, was charged on Tuesday with embezzling the funds from St Paul’s Baptist Church in Willingboro where she worked as their volunteer financial secretary.
Authorities started investigating after the church reported that someone was take from them.
Investigators discovered that Smith-DeJoseph had allegedly stolen $561,000 from the church over a span of five years. Smith-DeJoseph, who was in charge of overseeing the church’s finances, is blame for of opening electronic bank accounts for St Paul’s and then using the funds for her own personal expenses. Prosecutors say she used the money to pay her car loans, rent, credit card expenses, satellite TV and cellphone bills.
She allegedly made thousands of online transactions, including 2,719 PayPal purchases that added up to $250,000 and 805 Amazon buys that totaled about $22,000.
Smith-DeJoseph also used the stolen funds to pay for her own wedding at a local New Jersey venue. In addition to the spending, prosecutors say Smith-DeJoseph also issued payroll and supplied reimbursement checks to herself from St. Paul’s bank accounts. She fabricated monthly statements to hide the church’s true financial state, according to authorities.
In a bid to hide the embezzlement from the government, Smith-DeJoseph failed to file income tax returns and didn’t pay the appropriate amount of taxes in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Authorities say she filed a fraudulent tax return in 2017. She was charged with theft by deception, computer lawbreaker activity, miapplication of entrusted property, failure to file personal income tax, failure to pay income tax and filing a fraudulent income tax return.
The church’s pastor, Fred Jackson, told WPVI that new policies have already been put in place to avoid something like this happening again. ‘We put our trust in other people as well as in God and sometimes that trust is misplaced… it is very hurtful for the entire congregation,’ Jackson said.
‘Most of the church knows about what was going on. Thankfully the contributions have not decreased.’
Shant’e Lewis – Well wasn’t she gonna have it at the church??? So what’s the big deal
Trecia A Brown – Someone else had to be involved with this. She was volunteering because she was paying herself! Sad!!!
Carla Cotton Ross – Where’s this church, they’re banking… Was she having a destination wedding, why did it cost so dang much
Gates Isiah – You can use people like this as a reason to not go to church if you want, but when you stand before God it’s just gonna be you and him. And he ain’t gone let you use other people as an excuse
James Winfrey III – She spent 500k in total. The wedding is just one of the many things she spent the church money on. But somebody else wasn’t paying close enough attention to the church finances, whether it was the pastor, church treasurer, or whatever finance committee they may have.
Azelia Hudson – Soooo just how do the church st-eal from people? And the majority of churches are not mega churches. Everyone needs to get a new line, because this one is getting old and it so wrong. But then again, think what you want. It doesn’t make it true .