Former church secretary accused of keeping tithes

A former church secretary pleaded not guilty to allegedly taking more than $20,000 from a church and its parishioners over a six-year period.

Daria Silvano Bruce was indicted by members of the Kaua’i grand jury for allegedly taking money from the Holy Cross Church and Sacred Heart Parish in Kalaheo.

According to the one-page indictment, she deprived the church and its parishioners of the money between Jan. 1, 1999, and April 30, 2005.

The indictment was filed this year, on Jan. 23.

Bruce, 60, faces one count of first-degree theft. The class B felony charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.

The ‘Ele’ele resident was arrested Jan. 27 and arraigned three days later before Fifth Circuit Court Chief Judge George Masuoka.

Bruce was released on $5,000 bail.

Her attorney, William Feldhacker, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Bruce was a volunteer before she became the church’s secretary, according to Bill Burton, business manager of the Roman Catholic Church in Hawai’i.

Burton said Bruce became the church’s secretary in late 1998, and continued in that capacity through May 2005.

According to Burton, the bank that handles the church’s finances notified the parish of apparent irregularities in bank statements.

As a result, Burton did an internal investigation of the church’s books from 1999 to last May. After irregularities were discovered, parish officials turned to the county prosecutor’s office for further proceedings.

A jury trial has been set for May 22.

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