BY Mohammed Awal, 8:00am February 19, 2020,

New Jersey volunteer steals over $500k from church to fund her wedding

Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph. Image credit: WPXI

A New Jersey church volunteer has been charged for embezzling over half a million dollars belonging to the church.

According to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s office, Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph served as a financial secretary at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Florence where she stole $561,777.

She used the money to fund her wedding and other personal expenses.

From Baldwin Lane in Willingboro, Smith-DeJoseph, 43, was charged with; 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).

According to investigators, for five years ending in March 2019, Smith-DeJoseph, who was responsible for overseeing the church’s finances, opened electronic bank accounts for St. Paul’s and used the funds for personal purposes.

In addition to the unapproved electronic spending, Smith-DeJoseph also issued payroll and supply reimbursement checks to herself from St. Paul’s bank accounts, prosecutors said. She fabricated monthly statements to hide the church’s true financial state.

“The investigation revealed that Smith-DeJoseph used the money to pay her car loans, rent, credit card expenses, satellite television and cell phone bills, to make hundreds of online purchases and even to pay for her wedding at a Burlington County venue. The investigation determined that Smith-DeJoseph embezzled a total of $561,777,” Burlington County Prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The statement further noted that in an attempt to hide the embezzlement scheme from the government, Smith-DeJoseph failed to file income tax returns for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018. From 2014 through 2018, she failed to pay the appropriate amount of taxes, and in 2017, filed a fraudulent tax return.

“People put their hard-earned money in the church and really expected for it to be taken care of,” the Rev. Fred Jackson told CNN affiliate KYW. “It’s very hurtful for the entire congregation and we’ve been going through it for several months now, and what else can I say? It was devastating.”

A man who said he is Smith-DeJoseph’s brother told KYW that he wasn’t aware of the allegations.

“I know my sister and she would never do no (expletive) like that,” he said. 

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: February 19, 2020


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