Florida Priest and Secretary Stole $1.5M from Church: Cops
Cops say money that was meant for the parish went directly into their pockets.
The Biblical verse of "Thou Shall Not Steal" has allegedly caught up with an Irish Pastor who was living in Florida pontificating at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach, and his associate who are accused of fraudulently depositing nearly $1.5 million of parishioners’ donations into a bank account over a five-year period, cops say, according to The Irish Examiner.
Father Richard Murphy, who hailed from County Wexford in Ireland and died in 2020, along with his secretary Deborah True, had been under investigation since December 2021 by the Vero Beach Police Department, Irish Examiner reported.
Police were contacted by the Diocese of Palm Beach last fall in regard to a fraudulent bank account and possible misappropriation of funds that occurred over the course of approximately five years at Holy Cross Catholic Church, cops said.
The authorities' nine-month investigation into the late pastor and True and concluded that the duo opened a bank account in the name of “Holy Cross Catholic Church,” which was hidden from the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach, cops say.
The investigation also uncovered bank records which show that nearly $1.5 million of parishioners’ donations were fraudulently deposited into the account since 2015, police said.
Cops say True used over $500,000 of those funds to pay off personal lines of credit from 2015 until 2020, according to police, and an additional $147,000 was withdrawn from the account and deposited into True’s personal checking account.
Cops say that Pastor Murphy had also personally benefited from the funds in the account. No criminal investigation was opened against Father Richard Murphy because he is deceased.
Last week, True turned herself into authorities and was charged with one count of organized fraud over $50,000.00.
On Tuesday, police posted the news on their Facebook page and officially broke the story to the community.
Court records obtained by Inside Edition Digital show she has not entered a plea and has posted a $25,000 bond. True will return to court on November 3, where she will be arraigned. It remains unclear if she has obtained a lawyer.
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