FLORENCE — A church's volunteer financial secretary has been charged by Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina's office with stealing more than $561,000 from the church and spending it on herself.

Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph, 43, embezzled the money over a five-year period from St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Florence by opening up electronic bank accounts, according to Coffina. She issued payroll and supply reimbursement checks to herself from St. Paul’s bank accounts and fabricated monthly statements to hide the church’s true financial state until March 2019, according to Coffina.

The money was spent on car loans, rent, credit card expenses, satellite television and cell phone bills and to make hundreds of online purchases, Coffina said.

Smith-DeJoseph also did not file her own taxes 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018 and filed a fraudulent return in 2017, he said.

The church suspected the thefts and contacted the Financial Crimes Unit of the his office, according to Coffina.

Smith-DeJoseph was charged with charged with second- degree theft by deception, second-degree computer criminal activity, second-degree misapplication of entrusted property, four third-degree counts of failure to file personal income tax, five counts of third-degree failure to pay income tax and third-degree filing a fraudulent income tax return.

The church's pastor, Fred Jackson, told CBS Philly that sometimes the trust of Christians can be misplaced, and his congregation is "devastated" by the theft.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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