A New Jersey woman who served as the financial manager for her church reportedly stole over a half a million dollars to pay for wedding and other personal expenses, according to prosecutors.
She used the stolen money for thousands of online purchases, car loans, satellite television, cell phone bills and even her own wedding.https://t.co/ot9TTsKswh
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 12, 2020
Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph, 43, a member of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Florence Township, New Jersey, faces more than a dozen charges including theft by deception, second degree; computer criminal activity, second degree; misapplication of entrusted property, second degree; four counts of failure to file personal income tax, third degree; five counts of failure to pay income tax, third degree; and filing a fraudulent income tax return, third degree, USA Today reports.
Prosecutors revealed the church’s account had been overdrawn over 500 times, because Smith-DeJoseph used the funds to pay for her wedding, while also paying for services and goods from Verizon, DISH Network, Asos, Comcast and payment for two car loans.
Smith-DeJoseph’s arrest came after prosecutors began their investigation in July 2019, after church leaders became suspect of apparent theft. Authorities discovered that over a five-year period ending in March 2019, Smith De-Joseph embezzled a total of $561,777 by giving herself access to the St. Paul’s electronic bank accounts where she repeatedly issued fake bank account statements to hide the deficit.
She was able to evade the IRS by failing to file her income tax returns from 2014-2016 and 2018. From 2014-2018, she failed to pay the proper amount of taxes and filed a false report in 2017.
St. Paul’s Pastor Fred Jackson gave an interview to WPVI where he said the church has emotionally and financially sustained their heartbreak.
“Most of the church knows about what was going on. Thankfully the contributions have not decreased,” he said.
Jackson ensured that leadership worked to put measures in place to avoid another incident like this.
“Trust. Trust. That’s all I can say,” he said. “We as Christians like to believe we’re trusting and we put our trust in other people and in God and sometimes that trust is misplaced.”