DURYEA (July 23, 2020) – The Diocese of Scranton has worked closely with the Duryea Police Department and the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office regarding the theft of funds from Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Duryea. On July 23, 2020, a criminal complaint and affidavit of probable cause was filed against Denise Decker, a 20-year employee of the parish who served as parish secretary.
Decker is facing two felony theft counts, a felony forgery count and a misdemeanor count of tampering with records.
Through internal protocols and procedures established by the Diocese of Scranton Finance Office, the parish staff noticed unusual activity that indicated some money may have been stolen from Sunday collections. After a very brief internal investigation, the parish staff contacted the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office which launched a criminal investigation.
On Monday, September 23, 2019, the person in question was terminated from her position. The parish and Diocese will continue to work with police and in keeping with its zero tolerance policy towards financial malfeasance, the Diocese will aggressively seek full restitution of all unaccounted parish funds through the judicial process.
Nativity of Our Lord Parish and the Diocese of Scranton are fully committed to ensuring that the funds provided for use in parish operations and charitable ministries are protected. This is an obligation that we take very seriously.
The parish continues to utilize numerous safeguards including:
Offertory collections are immediately secured following the completion of any collection. Sealed, tamper-proof bags are used by ushers.
The parish uses rotating teams which are responsible for counting the offertory collection. This includes a minimum of three unrelated individuals and no parish employees. A member of the counting team completes the appropriate deposit slip and accompanies the offertory to the bank for depositing. A duplicate deposit slip is given to the parish secretary and that employee is responsible for properly recording all receipts in parish accounting records.
A detailed list of annual contributions is sent to each contributing parishioner at the end of each calendar year.
Nativity of Our Lord Parish and the Diocese of Scranton are grateful to the Duryea Police Department and Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in investigating this matter. The filing of criminal charges is not evidence of guilt and a charged defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the Commonwealth has proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant enters a guilty plea to the charges.
Due to the charges and ongoing investigation, any further questions should be directed to the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office.