The Polk County Sheriff’s Office sent out Durfey’s mug shot on Sunday evening. At 12:08 a.m. on Sunday, Durfey turned himself into the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office. He bonded out of jail at 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. His bond was set at $21,000.
Durfey disappeared on Friday, after Polk County Sheriff’s deputies got a warrant for his arrest. Durfey, 54, of 669 Deauville Court in Kissimmee, has since been charged with one count of scheming to defraud, one count of grand theft, and one count of the illegal use of a credit card.
These charges stem from his position as the church administrator for the First Baptist Church of Poinciana. According to Polk detectives, a church trustee found suspicious documents in Durfey’s trash can last week and showed them to the senior pastor, Jim Rogers. Church employees then began checking the church’s bank accounts, and discovered Durfey had been using church funds for his personal use for months.
The church contacted the sheriff’s office, and an investigation by Polk detectives concluded that Durfey had used the church’s two checking accounts and one savings account from April 2010 to June 2012 for his own use. Although Durfey lives in Osceola County, the church at 601 Walnut St. is located on the Polk County side of Poinciana.
According to Polk detectives, Durfey obtained a debit card for the account without the church’s knowledge or permission, then used it during a 26-month time frame. Bank records indicate Durfey had taken more than $56,000 from the church using the debit card for transactions and withdrawals — or “stolen,” as the Polk County Sheriff’s Office noted in the affidavit.
Detectives discovered Durfey had used the bank card for a long list of purchases made at, among other places, Wal-Mart, Race Trac, Wasabi Buffet, Little Caesars, Cumberland Farms, Loves Travel, the Hampton Inn Orlando, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, Cattle Ranch Steak House and Pinch a Penny. Durfey also used some of the church funds on his campaign for Clerk of Courts in Osceola County, detectives say.
Durfey could not be located by authorities on Friday, so the Polk County Sheriff’s Office asked for the public’s help in finding him.
Despite his arrest, Durfey will be on Tuesday’s ballot in Osceola County, competing in the Republican primary against Kathy M. Foust, Rayelynne Ketchum, and Arthur R. Osborne. The winner of the Republican primary will advance to the November general election against the candidate who wins the Democratic primary. Two Democrats, Alpha Amelia Lacy and Armando Ramirez, are trying to unseat the incumbent Clerk of Courts, Malcolm Thompson, who had his own scandal this year.
In January, Gov. Rick Scott suspended Thompson from office pending the outcome of criminal charges filed against him for assault and battery against two of his employees. Thompson had been accused of shoving a secretary on Dec. 29.
A jury ruled in his favor and Thompson was returned to office.
On his campaign Web site, Durfey describes himself as “trustworthy” and highlights his position at the Poinciana church, while also noting “I have met, served, and interacted with up to 400 people per day and realize the importance of being a public servant. With this vast knowledge and experience, I have learned to be responsible for providing all people timely and appropriate service in an environment that is customer-focused, data-driven, process oriented, team centered and sensitive to human diversity.”
He also posted photos of himself posing with Osceola County Sheriff Bob Hansell and Florida’s Lieutenant Gov. Jennifer Carroll.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says his criminal arrest history dates back to 1976, when he was arrested by the Miami-Dade Police Department for carrying a concealed weapon and loitering and prowling, and continued from there to include arrests for forgery, concealing stolen property and fraud by illegal use of a credit card in 1977, vehicle theft in 1978 (both in Miami), dealing in stolen property in 1981 (Mount Dora), robbery and battery in 1984 (Miami), burglary in 1986 (Eustis), and fraudulently obtaining unemployment compensation in 1996 in Osceola County.
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