POLK COUNTY, Fla. - An Osceola County candidate for Clerk of the Court will spend some time in court, but it may not be job-related.
Just days before Osceola County voters will see his name on the ballot, Oliver Durfey -- known by his middle name, Dan -- has felony theft charges to answer to.
Durfey turned himself in to authorities on Sunday on charges that he stole from the church he worked for, First Baptist Church of Poinciana.
Before he started his campaign for public office, investigators say he worked as an administrator at the church where he had full access to church funds.
Deputies say he took full advantage of that access, spending more than $55,000 of the church's money on personal expenses.
“You wouldn't trust this guy with a bubble gum machine, much less with your church finances,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “We can see at least two occasions where he used church funds to pay for events that were political in nature.”
Durfey’s arrest affidavit says a trustee at the church noticed some suspicious receipts in Durfey’s trash can. He and other administrators looked into it further, found thousands of dollars missing, and got the Sheriff’s Office involved.
“When you do an organized scheme to defraud the Lord, you're asking for big problems,” Sheriff Judd said. “Bigger than we can cause.”
Monday afternoon, Durfey’s yard did not have any political signs up, but there was one home-made “do not trespass” sign. A neighbor said they put it up Saturday.
According to the Supervisor of Elections in Osceola County, Durfey did not withdraw from the race, so voters could still select him in Tuesday’s primaries.
What’s most shocking to Sheriff Judd is this is not Durfey’s first arrest. Judd questions how he got the job to oversee money at a church in the first place.
Durfey’s criminal history includes charges of fraud, battery, burglary, theft and more.
“What we can do with him with the criminal justice system pales in comparison to what the Lord can do to him for ripping him off,” Judd said.
The church had no comment on the charges against Durfey.
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