FLORENCE, N.J. (CBS) — There’s shocking charges tonight against a church secretary. She’s charged with stealing more than half a million dollars, using the money for rent, a car, online purchases and even her wedding.

When Eyewitness News asked the pastor how someone could allegedly steal hundreds of thousands of dollars for so long, he responded with just one word — “trust.”

“People put their hard-earned money in the church and really expect for it to be taken care of,” Rev. Fred Jackson said.

Saint Paul Baptist Church has been a place of refuge in Florence for more than a century.

But for the last five years, the house of God fell victim to 43-year-old Taisha Smith-DeJoseph, of Willingboro, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.

(credit: CBS3)

“It’s very hurtful for the entire congregation and we’ve been going through it for several months now and what else can I say? It was devastating,” Rev. Jackson said.

We’re told the financial secretary stole more than $500,000 from the church.

She allegedly opened electronic bank accounts for Saint Paul Baptist and used the cash to pay for her car loans, rent, hundreds of online purchases and even her wedding venue.

“We’d like to believe that we as Christians are trusting. We put our trust in other people as well as in God, and sometimes that trust is misplaced,” Rev. Jackson said.

Eyewitness News attempted to speak with the accused embezzler. The suspect’s brother came to the door and claimed to not know about the allegations.

“Charges?” he said.

“You don’t know about the charges?” CBS3’s Kimberly Davis asked.

“No, is this a joke?” he said.

After Eyewitness News informed him of the allegations, we were asked to leave.

“I know my sister and she would never do no [expletive] like that,” he said.

A grand jury is convening for Smith-DeJoseph’s possible indictment.

Smith-DeJoseph faces a slew of charges, including theft by deception and computer criminal activity.

Kimberly Davis