A former central Florida pastor is free on bail, after a jury found him guilty of stealing more than $100,000 from New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, the Miami Herald website reports today (August 16, 2013).
It took about an hour of deliberation on August 14 for jurors in Bartow to reach a verdict.
Joe Seephis Hardie, 68, was found guilty of scheming to defraud, grand theft, and money laundering. The two most serious charges each carry maximum punishments of 30 years in prison.
The judge allowed Hardie to remain free until his October 3 sentencing. Prosecutors say Hardie took money from the church for personal use in 2007 and 2008 and a portion of 2009.