Police: Former employee stole more than $500,000 from church over 5-year period

Police said Deborah True turned herself in on one count of organized fraud over $50,000.
Police said Deborah True turned herself in on one count of organized fraud over $50,000.(Vero Beach Police Department)
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 2:49 PM HST
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VERO BEACH, Fla. (Gray News) – Police in Florida charged a woman with fraud after they said she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a church she worked at for five years.

The Vero Beach Police Department said Deborah True turned herself in at the Indian River County Jail on Monday. She was charged with one count of organized fraud over $50,000. She has since been let out on bond and is awaiting trial.

The Vero Beach Police Department said in a Facebook post that they were contacted by the Diocese of Palm Beach for a fraudulent bank account and misappropriation of funds that occurred over the last few years at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach.

The police department then opened up a nine-month-long fraud investigation, eventually leading to the arrest of True, the church’s former parish administrator.

During the investigation, police discovered True and Richard Murphy, a former church pastor, opened a bank account in 2012 in the name of the Holy Cross Catholic Church. They found the account was also hidden from the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach.

Police said bank records showed nearly $1.5 million of parishioners’ donations were deposited into the account since 2015.

Investigators said True used over $500,000 of the deposited funds to pay off personal lines of credit from 2015 to 2020. An additional $147,000 was withdrawn from the account and deposited in True’s checking account, according to police.

It was also determined Murphy, the former pastor, had also personally benefited from the money in the account.