NJ church secretary accused of paying for her wedding, bills with $561K she embezzled

FLORENCE TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A financial secretary for a New Jersey church is accused of embezzling more than $500,000 in parish money to pay her personal bills, including car loans and even her wedding, authorities said Tuesday.

Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph, 43, of Willingboro, was charged with 13 crimes, including computer criminal activity, tax fraud, theft by deception and second-degree theft, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina told NJ.com.

In a news release, Coffina said Smith-DeJoseph allegedly stole $561,777 over a five-year period until March 2019, when she was overseeing the finances for St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Florence Township, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

According to the release, Smith-DeJoseph used the money to pay car loans, rent, credit card expenses, satellite television and mobile phone bills, hundreds of online purchases, and her wedding at a Burlington County venue, the newspaper reported.

“Trust. Trust. That’s all I can say," St. Paul’s pastor Fred Jackson told WPVI. “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.”

Smith-DeJoseph filed a fraudulent income tax return in 2017, and did not file at all in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, NJ.com reported.

Jackson said new policies are now in place to prevent a recurrence, WPVI reported.