By Maria Immaculate Owechi
To have a luxurious wedding, some couples have had to break an arm and leg.
In the USA, a church secretary has been taken into police custody for allegedly embezzling over Shs2bn from her church, St Paul Baptist Church, New Jersey.
In a report by the USA Burlington County Prosecutor’s office, Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph, 43, used her position as the church’s treasurer to embezzle the funds for her personal things. Among the things that she spent the money on is funding for her wedding venue.
According to CNN, the church’s board of trustees’ first suspected theft around June 2019 and they reported the matter to the authorities who launched an investigation.
“It was discovered that Smith-DeJoseph allegedly issued payroll and supply reimbursement checks to herself from the church’s bank accounts and fabricated monthly statements to hide the church’s true financial state,” Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said.
The woman has left the church with a negative balance of their accounts caused over a period of seven years.
The Reverend of St Paul’s Baptist church said they are devastated that the person who they trusted with the congregation’s money turned out to be a fraud.
“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. “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.”
The other items which Smith-DeJoseph allegedly used the stolen money for were to pay her car loans, rent, credit card expenses, cable bill, cell phone bills, and to make hundreds of online purchases.
The report accounted that purchases made were totaling to about Shs980m through PayPal and purchases of about Shs84m on Amazon.
CNN reported that the suspect was taken into custody on Tuesday morning following a search warrant at her home.
A man reported to be Smith-DeJoseph’s brother denied the allegations to the CNN crew.
“I know my sister and she would never do anything like that,” he said.
Her case will now be forwarded to a Burlington County grand jury for possible formal charge.
It is important to know that one can have a successful wedding without having to steal or be in debt. Here is a couple that was able to achieve that.