February 12, 2020
A financial secretary at a New Jersey church allegedly embezzled $561,777 to pay for various personal expenses – including her wedding venue and a car payment.
Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph, 43, of Willingboro, Burlington County, is facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing funds from St. Paul's Baptist Church in Florence, where she worked as a volunteer, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office.
Smith-DeJoseph allegedly opened electronic bank accounts for the church and then used those accounts for personal purchases, including credit card expenses, cellphone bills and online purchases. The theft persisted for five years, ending last March, prosecutors say.
Smith-DeJoseph issued payroll and reimbursement checks to herself from the bank accounts, prosecutors say.
She allegedly also fabricated monthly statements in order to hide her spending.
Burlington County's financial crimes unit began investigating after the church suspected funds were missing.
Smith-DeJoseph faces charges of theft by deception, computer criminal activity and misapplication of entrusted property.
She also was charged with failing to file tax returns, failing to pay the appropriate amount of taxes and filing a fraudulent tax return.
Prosecutors will present their case for indictment before a Burlington County Grand Jury.