Gas purchase scheme nets arrest

Published 6:17 pm Sunday, September 7, 2014

GATESVILLE – A unique scheme to allegedly pocket money from a stolen credit card has landed a former employee of Gates County local government behind bars.

Eddie McDuffie Jr., 35 of Gatesville, stands charged with obtaining property by false pretense and larceny by an employee following his recent arrest. He is currently incarcerated in the Hertford County Jail under a $10,000 cash bond awaiting a court date in October.

Eddie McDuffie Jr.

Eddie McDuffie Jr.

According to Gates County Sheriff Ed Webb, McDuffie was a part-time county employee whose job involved cutting grass and weed-eating county-owned property.

“Of course we have to purchase gas to operate those lawnmowers and weed eaters and there is a county-issued credit card in the truck that the crew uses to transport the lawn care equipment from one site to another,” Webb explained. “It’s apparent that’s where Mr. McDuffie got his hands on that credit card.”

Webb said McDuffie traveled to gas and diesel stations, located in counties adjacent to Gates, frequented heavily by truck traffic.

“There he would approach a driver who was beginning the process of filling up the tank on his truck,” Webb explained. “The trick was that Mr. McDuffie would offer to pay for the fuel using the county’s credit card in exchange for the driver paying him in cash. The deal was presented in a way that the driver found hard to turn down….Mr. McDuffie would allow the truck driver to purchase $300 worth of fuel for $150 in cash.”

However, when the bill landed on the desk of the county’s finance officer, a red flag was raised.

“Come to find out that Mr. McDuffie had rang up $10,300 worth of fuel charges on that card,” Webb said.

After the bill came in, it had to be determined who was responsible. Webb said his Chief Deputy, Randy Hathaway, served as the lead investigator.

“Randy studied the bill to see the locations of where these fuel purchases were made,” Webb said. “Using that information he was able to personally witness the video from surveillance cameras at these gas stations where Mr. McDuffie is seen talking with truck drivers.”

Hathaway’s investigation revealed the purchases of gas/diesel that were on the credit card statement occurred between July 19-31. Those purchases occurred in Hertford, Northampton, Halifax, and Bertie counties.

Webb said once McDuffie was confronted about the crime, he confessed.

“He was straight forward about it; he told me he needed the money to buy drugs,” Webb said.

The Sheriff added that McDuffie’s family (he is the son of retired Gates County Manager Ed McDuffie) has paid the full amount of the fraudulent charges on the credit card.

McDuffie Jr. does have a past criminal history, according to information on the Public Search portal of the NC Division of Prisons website. He was placed on probation and ordered to perform Community Service work after being found guilty in Wake County for a March 19, 2010 crime that involved three felony counts each of forgery and uttering.

In August of 2004 he was found guilty of an April 4, 2003 crime in Gates County where he was charged with one misdemeanor count each of breaking and entering and larceny. He was placed on probation.

He served probation for a May 23, 1998 crime in Bertie County where he was found guilty for assault.

Roanoke-Chowan Publications learned on Thursday of last week that McDuffie Jr. faces a new charge in Hertford County – possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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