News and Press Releases


March 10, 2010


KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A former church music director has been sentenced to 150 months in federal prison for setting fire to the Sunflower Missionary Baptist Church in Leavenworth, Kan., U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said today.

Carva Lee White, 46, Kansas City, Mo., also was ordered to pay $1,000 restitution to the church and $374,993 to Church Mutual Insurance Co., of Merrill, Wis. White pleaded guilty to one count of attempted mail fraud and one count of using arson in an attempt to commit mail fraud. In his plea, White admitted that on Oct. 31, 2008, he set fire to the church. About a week earlier, White had told the pastor of the church about a plan to burn the building and then collect kickbacks from contractors who would submit inflated bids to do repairs. The church’s insurance would pay for the repairs.

On the evening of Oct. 31, 2008, the Leavenworth Fire Department was dispatched to the church, where firefighters discovered a large fire. An investigation by the Kansas Fire Marshal’s office determined the fire had been intentionally set in various locations in the church. As a result of the fire, Church Mutual Insurance Company mailed a check to the Sunflower Missionary Baptist Church for $103,236.

Welch commended the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Leavenworth Kansas Police and Fire Departments, the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Department and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marietta Parker and David Smith for their work on the case.