Federal indictment says Donald White stole $320,000 from Antioch Baptist

A 20-year treasurer of a Ralls County church has been systematically paying himself with church funds, federal court documents allege.

Donald Ray White, of Hannibal, was arrested Friday, March 9, on two counts of wire fraud stemming from an investigation following a devastating fire at Antioch Baptist Church in December 2016.

White posted a $10,000 bond and was released from a St. Louis jail over the weekend.

Federal court documents say in total, White stole $320,888 from the historic church's coffers.

White served as treasurer of the church from January 1994 through at least December 2016. In that position, White wrote all the checks for the church and was a signatory on the church's F&M Bank account. The indictment indicates White may have stolen from the church throughout the duration of his time as treasurer.

According to court paperwork, White had little oversight from other church board members in his position. Like most small congregation church treasurers, he did not draw a salary from the church as treasurer.

White, U.S. attorneys argue, “devised a scheme and artifice to defraud and to obtain money from Antioch Baptist Church of Hannibal by means of false and fraudulent promises, pretenses and representations.”

As a part of the alleged scheme, White wrote checks from the F&M Bank checking account of the church to himself.

While the overall amount of money allegedly taken from the church eclipses $300,000, the two counts of wire fraud amounts to less than $3,500.

Attorneys say on two occasions in 2016, White had a check wired to him from F&M Bank's financial computer server near Des Moines, Iowa, to a Walmart store in Missouri's eastern district.

On April 16, 2016, White allegedly wired a check for $350. Again on July 11, White allegedly sent himself a check for $3,000.

If convicted, White would forfeit property purchased with the illegally-obtained money, including a house in northern Hannibal.

The investigation into White apparently began in earnest after a Dec. 20, 2016, fire that destroyed the historic church.

The Ralls County Sheriff's Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Fire Marshal's Office and others led the investigation. Ultimately, because the building was destroyed, no cause was ever determined for the fire. The indictment does not mention the fire.

White was indicted by a federal grand jury. He will face an arraignment on March 19.

Dianna Collins is the lead attorney prosecuting White. White is being represented by St. Louis-area attorney Mark Byrne.

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com .