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Former Columbus minister accused of staging burglary, insurance fraud

Posted at 11:56 PM, Mar 27, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ind. – A former Columbus minister was accused Friday of staging a burglary to receive an advance on insurance money.

Columbus police officers said First Christian Church minister Justin White was taken into custody for allegedly contributing to the delinquency of a minor and insurance fraud.

In December, White reported $11,000 in items had been stolen from his Columbus home while he was preaching a sermon.

Soon after the community heard about White’s loss, they began to donate money to help. Even children donated change from their piggy banks to help his family recover.

Church leaders said days after White reported the burglary, he told members that police accused him of being involved in the crime.

White was open to speaking with RTV6 reporters soon after he said the incident occurred.

On Monday, reporters returned after learning of the staged burglary, and White refused to speak.

Members of the church shared a statement that was read to the congregation Sunday morning:

We will be following a modified plan of worship this morning because some things have taken place this week that need to be addressed by the Elders.  Our purpose has not changed, we are here this morning to honor God and praise Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Before that can happen, we need to update you on recent events and what the Elders have been actively working through for some time.  Originally Justin was scheduled to be here this morning to tell his story, but as most of you know, he was arrested on Friday night. 

First, let me inform you that on Sunday evening, March 12th, Justin White requested a meeting with the Elders and submitted his resignation as Senior Minister of this church.  The Elders accepted his resignation and it became effective on Monday, the 13th of this month.  This announcement was scheduled for this morning because the resignation happened at the beginning of Spring Break and we didn’t feel it was fair to report this until many of you returned to Columbus.

You can read the rest of the statement here

“It's wrong and it shows what people can do,” said John Everroad, who lives in the area. "You know everybody makes mistakes. I believe in forgiveness but I believe in punishment too for something like that."

Church members shared with the congregation that they attempted to help White overcome an issue with substance abuse, but he relapsed due to the burglary investigation.

White was placed on an indefinite leave of absence and the congregation accepted his resignation March 12. He bonded out of jail Monday, according to police. 

 

The Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office will continue to investigate the case.