NJ Woman Steals $561K From Church to Pay for Wedding, Police Say

A New Jersey woman is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the church she volunteered at in order to pay for her wedding, rent and other bills

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What to Know

  • Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph, 43, of Willingboro, was arrested Tuesday and charged with theft by deception, computer criminal activity, misapplication of entrusted property and other related offenses.
  • From 2014 through March of 2019, Smith-DeJoseph allegedly embezzled more than $561,000 from St. Paul's Baptist Church in Florence Township, New Jersey.
  • Smith-DeJoseph allegedly used the money to pay her car loans, rent, credit card expenses, satellite television, cell phone bills and for her wedding at a venue in Burlington County.

A New Jersey woman is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the church where she volunteered in order to pay for her wedding, rent and other bills.

Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph, 43, of Willingboro, was arrested Tuesday and charged with theft by deception, computer criminal activity, misapplication of entrusted property and other related offenses.

Smith-DeJoseph was a volunteer at St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Florence Township, New Jersey, where she oversaw the church’s finances. From 2014 through March 2019, Smith-DeJoseph allegedly embezzled more than $561,000 from the church, opening electronic bank accounts for St. Paul’s and using the funds for personal purposes.

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Smith-DeJoseph also issued payroll and supplied reimbursement checks to herself from St. Paul’s bank accounts, fabricating monthly statements to hide the church’s true financial state, investigators said.

Smith-DeJoseph allegedly used the money to pay her car loans, rent, credit card expenses, satellite television, cell phone bills and for her wedding at a venue in Burlington County.

Smith-DeJoseph never filed income tax returns between 2014 and 2018 in order to hide the embezzlement scheme from the government, officials said.

The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office began investigating Smith-DeJoseph in July after a member of the church raised a red flag. Smith-DeJoseph was arrested Tuesday morning and a search warrant was conducted at her home.

“We put our trust in other people and sometimes that trust is misplaced,” St. Paul Baptist Pastor Fred Jackson told NBC10. “It’s very hurtful for the entire congregation. What can I say? It was devastating.”

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