When pastor White, above, senior minister at the First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana, announced that he had been burgled, kind-hearted people immediately rallied to support him and his family. They showered him with gifts, and two policemen even replaced his stolen TV.
But there was no real burglary.
And last week White was arrested on felony charges of insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He stands accused of arranging with a juvenile to stage the December 18, 2016, burglary at his Skyview Estates home in order to file an insurance claim for the lost items.
White is accused of arranging the burglary to obtain money from his insurance company to pay off a drug debt. The charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor relates to his obtaining drugs from a juvenile.
Two Columbus police officers, friends of the White family who did not want to be identified, replaced the family’s stolen living room television the same day of the burglary with a new one they purchased as a gift. Among the items White reported stolen were coins in his daughter’s piggy bank, jewelry with sentimental value, Xbox consoles and games and computers.
However, as Columbus Police detectives looked into the burglary allegation, they determined there were no signs of forced entry at the home. The front door and two other doors on the ground floor were unlocked and undamaged, they said. And the thief or thieves had left untouched wrapped gifts under the family’s Christmas tree.
Officers later learned after obtaining a search warrant that White made a claim for the burglary loss the same day he reported it through the Cincinnati Insurance Co, seeking $11,460.75 in compensation.
In an unrelated investigation, Columbus detectives obtained a search warrant for the home of the parents of the juvenile who was involved, who is only identified by his initials in the court documents. The juvenile told officers that he had an addiction problem and had just come out of rehabilitation. After repeatedly denying that he had burglarised White’s house, he told officers:
Justin has a very bad drug problem, too, and he’s been asking me to get him things for him since I was 15 years old.
The juvenile said the “things” were drugs, specifically pain pills and heroin,
The accused accomplice said he had met White for spiritual counseling when placed on house arrest at age 15 or 16 for possession of marijuana. White would come to the boy’s house at lunch time while both of his parents were at work.
On his second visit, White asked if the boy could get him some marijuana for his aunt who had cancer. During the third counseling session, White asked for prescription pain pills; and eventually, White asked the boy to obtain heroin for him.
At the time of the burglary, White owed the juvenile about $1,000, and had met with the juvenile in his car at a business parking lot to set up the burglary.
White originally wanted the juvenile to do the burglary on December 16 while he was in Ohio for his grandmother’s funeral, but the juvenile rejected the idea because of the short notice.
When detectives called White in to tell him that they had recovered some of the family’s property, officers read him his rights and asked him about his relationship with the male juvenile.
White has resigned from the First Christian Church.