Boston, Mass., Sep 22, 2022 / 15:30 pm
A priest along with the former parish administrator of a Catholic church in Florida funneled nearly $1.5 million in parishioners’ donations into a secret bank account for personal use, Vero Beach police said Tuesday.
The former pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach, Father Richard “Dick” Murphy, died on March 22, 2020, at the age of 80. The administrator, 69-year-old Deborah True, “turned herself in” to the Indian River County Jail in Vero Beach on Sept. 19, police said in a statement posted on the Vero Beach Police Department’s Facebook page.
The Diocese of Palm Beach contacted the police department in December 2021, raising concerns about a fraudulent bank account and the misappropriation of church funds that took place over the course of five years.
After a nine-month investigation, police concluded that from 2015–2020, $1.5 million in parishioner donations was funneled into a bank account called “Holy Cross Catholic Church” that was opened by Murphy and True in 2012. The account was hidden from the Diocese of Palm Beach, police said.