Man accused of torching church where he was music director

| October 17, 2009

A federal grand jury has indicted a Kansas City man, alleging that he set fire to a Leavenworth church where he worked as music director.

His intent, the indictment said, was to collect insurance money for inflated repair bills.

The grand jury indicted Carva Lee White, 45, on three counts of mail fraud, two counts of using arson to commit a federal felony and one count of making a false statement to a federal investigator, authorities said.

The indictment, unsealed today in federal court, accused White of setting fires to the Sunflower Missionary Baptist Church while he worked as the church’s music director.

It is unclear whether White still works at the church. Officials at the church could not be reached for comment.

White is accused of setting fire to the church twice last Oct. 30 and again on Oct.31. White had planned to persuade the pastor to file an insurance claim, collect the money, help inflate the repair bill and then embezzle the money, according to the indictment.

Later on Oct. 31, the church’s pastor left a phone message at the Church Mutual Insurance Company in Merrill, Wis., in order to make a claim. The insurance company paid out about $109,000, according to the indictment.

Federal authorities say that White lied when he told them that he was in Fayetteville, Ark., at the time of the arson and told authorities he couldn’t imagine anyone torching the church.

The pastor was not charged in the indictment.

The mail fraud charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison plus $250,000 on each count. The arson-related charge is punishable by a 10-year sentence to be served consecutively to any other sentences for the first conviction. Making a false statement to federal investigators is punishable by up to five years in prison plus a fine of up to $250,000.

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Category: Church Security

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