VERO BEACH, Fla. — A nine-month fraud investigation has resulted in the arrest of a former Catholic church parish administrator in Vero Beach after donations were fraudulently deposited for years, police said.
The Vero Beach Police Department announced Tuesday that they were contacted by the Diocese of Palm Beach in December 2021 in regards to a fraudulent bank account and possible misappropriation of funds that occurred over the course of about five years at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach.
Police said the investigation revealed that the church's former parish administrator, Deborah True, and former pastor, Richard Murphy, opened a bank account in the name of "Holy Cross Catholic Church" in 2012.
Investigators said the account was hidden from the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach.
Police said bank records show that nearly $1.5 million of parishioners' donations were fraudulently deposited into the account since 2015.
From 2015 until 2020, officials 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 An additional $147,000 was withdrawn from the account and deposited into True's personal checking account.
The investigation revealed that Murphy also personally benefited from the funds in the account. However, Murphy died in 2020, so police said no criminal investigation was opened against him.
True, 69, turned herself in at the Indian River County Jail on Monday on one count of organized fraud over $50,000. She has posted bail and is awaiting trial.