Florida Woman Accused of Taking $1.5M From Catholic Church in Vero Beach

Sinner and thief Deborah True

Former Priest Involved In Theft


“You’re talking about a five-year period time. Where people have given their hard-earned money every week, for five years from 2015-2020 to the tune of about $1.5 million,” Vero Beach police chief David Currey tells CBS12 News. “It’s certainly disappointing that this has taken place. I used the word ‘trust’ because the trust was there. Hopefully it still is, but it’s very hard to trust when something like this happens.” 

Police conducted a nine-month long fraud investigation and found Deborah True, 69, the church’s former parish administrator and former Priest Father Richard Murphy, 80, opened a bank account under the name of “Holy Cross Catholic Church,” which was hidden from the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach. Bank records show that $1.5 million of parishioners’ donations were fraudulently deposited into the account, since 2015.

Investigators said from 2015 to 2020, True used over $500,000 of those funds to pay off personal lines of credit and $147,000 was withdrawn from the account and deposited into True’s personal checking account. Police said Father Murphy also personally benefited from the funds in the account, however, Murphy died in 2020, therefore, no criminal investigation was opened against him. True was Murphy’s caretaker while he was in hospice battling his chronic illness.

True is charged with one count of organized fraud over $50,000. She was bailed out of jail.

The Diocese issued the following statement:

“Criminal charges were recently filed by the State Attorney’s Office related to financial irregularities discovered last year by the Diocese of Palm Beach at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach. The Diocese of Palm Beach reported concerns to local law enforcement after discovering these irregularities and has fully cooperated throughout their investigation. The diocese understands that an arrest has been made of a former employee. The Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to financial accountability in all of its parishes and entities and will continue to cooperate in this process. This matter does not involve the current pastor at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach.”


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