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Thursday, October 27, 2005                                                                                       View Comments

Ex-Bangor pastor arrested in Georgia

The former pastor of one of Bangor’s largest churches was arrested Monday morning in Savannah, Ga., on a warrant issued by Penobscot County Superior Court.

The Rev. Ron Durham, 59, of Savannah, Ga., was indicted earlier this month by the Penobscot County grand jury in the theft of more than $100,000 from Abundant Life Church on Outer Broadway, where he served as pastor for 16 years.

Durham, who is being held at the Chatham County Jail in Savannah, is expected to appear today in Chatham County Superior Court for an extradition hearing.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on the theft charge Thursday in Penobscot County Superior Court in Bangor.

Michael Roberts, the Penobscot County deputy district attorney who is prosecuting the case, said Tuesday that it is unlikely Durham will be returned to Maine in time for arraignment.

If Durham waives extradition, local law enforcement officers would bring him back to Bangor for arraignment in a week to 10 days, Roberts said. If he fights extradition, Durham most likely would not be arraigned until sometime next year.

Roberts said Tuesday that he obtained a warrant for Durham’s arrest shortly after the indictment was handed up on Oct. 3 because Durham now lives out of state. It went out in a national database, and local authorities arrested him about 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Although Durham’s attorney, Marvin Glazier of Bangor, told prosecutors that his client intended to appear in court on Thursday, Roberts said that he "didn’t choose to recall the warrant."

If convicted, Durham faces up to 10 years in prison and could be fined up to $20,000. He also could be ordered to pay restitution to his former congregation.

Durham helped build Abundant Life Church from 22 members in 1987 who met in motel function rooms to a congregation of nearly 800 with a $2.5 million facility on Outer Broadway. He resigned abruptly in November 2003 after announcing that he was taking a leave of absence to undergo treatment for alcoholism.

In a letter to the congregation, the former pastor said that he had "lost the support of the main body of leadership" at the church.

His wife, Lynn Durham, also was active in church ministry. Ron Durham’s son, John "Richie" Durham, 32, who worked as the church bookkeeper, and his wife, Theresa, manager of the church bookstore and a secretary, also resigned.

The families sold their Bangor-area homes and relocated to Georgia, where the former pastor was raised.

Durham allegedly used the church credit card between 2000 and 2003 for travel that included cruises outside the United States, stays at hotels, restaurant meals and bar tabs, Roberts said earlier this month.

In all, the former pastor used more than $100,000 in church funds for personal use, he said.

The alleged theft was uncovered last year after the church had an audit done by a Portland accounting firm.