Florida woman allegedly steals more than $1 million from church

Florida woman accused of stealing more than $1 million from her church (Courtesy: Vero Beach Police Department)

VERO BEACH, Fla. – A Florida woman is accused of stealing more than a million dollars from her church.

Investigators with the Vero Beach Police Department recently concluded a nine-month fraud investigation, after being contacted by the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach.

Police were contacted in Dec. 2021, after reports of possible misappropriation of funds that occurred over five years at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach.

Investigators said in 2012 Deborah True and the former pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church, Fr. Richard Murphy, opened a bank account in the name of “Holy Cross Catholic Church”, without the knowledge of the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach.

According to bank records, nearly $1.5 million of parishioners’ donations were fraudulently deposited into the account since 2015.

Investigators said True used more than $500,000 of those funds to pay off personal lines of credit. An additional $147,000 was withdrawn from the account and deposited into True’s personal checking account.

Police said former Pastor Father Richard Murphy also personally benefited from the funds in the account. Murphy passed away in 2020.

True turned herself in at the Indian River County Jail on Monday on one count of organized fraud.

True has since bonded out of jail and is awaiting trial.


About the Author:

Veronica Crespo writes for Local10.com and also oversees the Español section of the website. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism and Spanish.