Former pastor accused of defrauding Cape church
A former pastor of a Cape Coral church has been has been arrested, accused of defrauding the institution of more than $30,000.
Jeffery William Countryman, 44, of Palm Harbor, was charged with scheme to defraud at least $20,000 but less than $50,000 Monday following a months-long investigation that began in February.
He bonded out of the Lee County Jail on a $10,000 bond the same day.
The investigation by the Cape Coral Police Department began after the lead pastor at Cape Christian Fellowship Church was alerted by the church treasurer that Countryman, who had served there previously, may have stolen money from the church.
Countryman was the lead pastor for the church until December of 2017.
“The church bookkeeper found the first issue in February when a large Amazon book order ($2,600) was paid out but the books were never delivered. After contacting Amazon it was determined that the invoice was fraudulent meaning the order was never actually placed. The bookkeeper dove deeper into Countryman’s expenditures and found numerous altered receipts and invoices,” a CCPD release states.
Church staff reported the incident to the CCPD in mid-February as soon as it was determined that they may have been a victim of a crime.
“A financial crimes detective was assigned the case and began the in-depth investigation into the claims,” officials said.
“Over the course of several months and countless man hours with subpoena requests and sifting through paperwork the investigation found that Countryman engaged in a Scheme to Defraud the Cape Christian Fellowship Church of over $30,000,” the release states.
Countryman turned himself in at the Cape Coral Police Department on Monday.
– Source: CCPD