Pastor accused of staged burglary to pay drug debts

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COLUMBUS, IN (WXIN) - An Indiana pastor has been accused of using valuables from his home, including his daughter's piggy bank to pay back a drug debt.  Then claiming it was all stolen.

After leaving his home on the morning on December 18th and coming here to the First Christian Church to give a Sunday sermon, this man Justin White returned home hours later and told police he had been robbed.

Court records show the pastor took to Facebook the same day and wrote how $11,000 in valuables, including money from his daughter's piggy bank, had been stolen, adding as a last line he was thankful for insurance.

Four days after they were called to White's home, Columbus police claim they tracked down the underage suspect who broke into the home and that's when the story took a surprise twist. According to the affidavit in the case, the teen claimed Justin owed him around a $1,000 and continued that White told the teen how he would leave his front door unlocked and there would be a pile of stuff downstairs to take as payment for Justin’s debt. White then allegedly planned to be paid back by his insurance company.

The teen also confessed the pastor's debt was over drugs. White himself later confirmed for police he had been addicted to heroin and prescription pills and even overdosed on heroin back in 2015.

No one answered at White's home. Members at his church declined to talk about the case, as did the prosecutor. But court records claim after being confronted by police about the alleged fraud White admitted his drug problems, but denied organizing the break-in telling detectives specifically, "I’m not proud of this now. It was horrible. But I did not set this up."

In addition to one charge of insurance fraud, White is also accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.