A pastor in Warren was arrested in a police sting operation after he attempted to scam a woman out of $8,000 in order to pay off his own debts, police say.
Scott Edward Nedberg, 68, the pastor of Warren United Church of Christ, was arrested Tuesday during a police sting operation after a sting operation involving the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, Huntington Police Department and Warren Police Department. Nedberg faces one count of theft, which is a Level 6 felony.
On March 2, an Attorney out of Fort Wayne disclosed that one of his clients had spoken with the pastor of the Warren United Church of Christ, identified as Scott Nedberg, who told his client that he could have charges dismissed or reduce the sentence of a relative of the client in exchange for $8,000, according to police reports.
The woman reportedly agreed to meet Nedberg at Don Hall’s restaurant in Fort Wayne. The attorney found the situation suspicious and purchased a handheld audio recorder for his client to audio record the meeting, according to police reports.
On Feb. 29 the woman reportedly met with Nedberg and recorded the conversation, which detectives and investigators from the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department and Huntington County Prosecutor’s Office listened to.
Police say that in the recording Nedberg tells the woman he had seen video of the woman’s relative committing the crimes and told her “they’ve got him dead to rights.” Nedberg stated, according to the report, that he could make it so the charges are never filed or that the relative is sentenced to a rehab facility in exchange for $8,000.
When the woman asked Nedberg why it costs $8,000, Nedberg stated that he deals with four different people in three different departments, inferring that they all get a cut of the money, according to the court documents. The departments named were the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, the Huntington County Prosecutor’s Office and Huntington County Probation Department, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Nedberg later told investigators that he came up with the scam all on his own and that he did not conspire with anyone from the Huntington County Prosecutor’s Office, Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, or Huntington County Probation Department in exchange for money, the affidavit states.
Nedberg reportedly stated “it all was a lie” and said he “made the entire scam up” and knew it was wrong but was desperate. When police asked if he had done this before he said he hadn’t and had lied to the woman when he told her he had done this two other times, the affidavit states.
Nedberg reportedly told her he needed $2,000 quick if she wanted it to happen before the relative was sentenced on March 4, 2020. He told the woman she could make payments over several months for the remaining $6,000, and if things didn’t work out that he would return the $6,000 so she would only be out $2,000, the affidavit states.
A Huntington County Sheriff’s Department detective reportedly met with the woman who said she first met Nedberg when seeking addiction counseling for her relative. Several weeks after their first meeting her relative was arrested, which is when Nedberg stated there was a way to make the charges go away, court documents state.
Police say the woman felt uneasy about what Nedberg suggested and told her attorney. She reportedly showed detectives messages discussing the deal, including a message on March 3 asking if she still wanted to go through with the deal.
An agreement was made for her to drop off the $2,000 to Nedberg at his church in Warren, Indiana under the direction of the investigators, the affidavit states. Detectives reportedly gave Nedberg an audio transmitter and an audio/video recording device to the woman along with $2,000 of photocopied money in an envelope.
The detectives followed the woman to the church, where the Huntington Police Department, Huntington County Sheriff Department and Warren Police Department had visuals of the church and were able to monitor the conversation, court documents show.
Once inside, the woman reportedly gave Nedberg the envelope containing the $2,000 and the two spoke about the remaining $6,000. Police say he told her that he would possibly need another $2,000 soon and that the remainder would be needed by Christmas.
Once the woman left the church after some small talk, the police placed Nedberg into handcuffs and retrieved the photocopied money before transporting him to the Huntington Police Department, according to court documents.
“I was very proud of this woman for doing the right thing,” said Huntington County Sheriff Chris Newton. “I’m very proud of her, I’m proud of her attorney for getting with our prosecutor and everybody doing the right thing and having this looked into and investigated because we can’t have somebody like him on our streets taking advantage of people and trying to ruin good peoples’ names who do good things in our community.”
Nedberg allegedly told police that he is in so much debt he is “about to lose everything.” Nedberg stated he came up with the plan to get the $2,000 so he could pay some of his bills and told police he never intended on keeping the remaining $6,000, according to court documents.
Nedberg is scheduled to appear in Huntington Circuit Court on March 9, 2020 for an initial hearing. He posted a Huntington cash bond in the amount of $900.