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Elder arrested for stealing from church

The church was destroyed by fire. The church was destroyed by fire.

A Hannibal man was arrested in connection with a theft of over $300,000 from the parishioners of the Antioch Baptist Church in rural Ralls County, according to court documents.

Ralls County Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie confirmed that Donald R. White, 68, of Hannibal was charged with two federal counts of wire fraud. White was transported to St. Louis by the FBI for incarceration.

Rev. Jack Emmite, the church's pastor, said he and his congregation feels relief after the months-long investigation.

"You think that you know someone and when you find these things out, it's a deep hurt," Emmite said. "Vengeance is mine seethe the Lord, not ours. So, we'll leave it to God and those who are working on the whole thing."

In addition to the charges, White's Indictment reveals that he will also forfeit his property at 108 Woodland Trail in Hannibal.

Dinwiddie said White was an elder and longtime treasurer of the church. He was suspected by other parishioners of being involved with a large scale theft of church funds prior to a fire on December 20, 2016, that destroyed the church.

The sheriff says, for many people, there are questions about White's connection to the fire.

"It's hard to say if there is any relation to that," Dinwiddie stated. "You're talking about a coincidence but there's a lot that can happen as a coincidence here. We're just going off of the forensic facts that we have and not trying to speculate anything."

White's Indictment indicates that he had been an elected treasurer of the church from January 1994 through December 2016. As treasurer, White did not receive a salary, but he did have access to the church's bank statements and checkbook. White was also an authorized signatory on the church's account.

According to the Indictment, White wrote checks from the church's checking account to himself and others without the knowledge or permission of the church.

The Indictment reveals one count of wire fraud for a check written to a Walmart store in Missouri for the amount of $350.00 and the second count for a check written to Fidelity Investments in the amount of $3,000. Both for White's personal benefit.  

During the timeframe of almost 22 years, the indictment states White embezzled approximately $320,888.00 from the church. 

An extensive investigation was initiated following the fire that resulted in White's arrest.

The investigation was conducted by the Ralls County Sheriff’s Office, and assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Internal Revenue Service, and the Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office.

Related: Antioch Church continues rebuilding process

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