Prosecutors: Pastor fabricated claims about church attack

AP News
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Posted: Nov 02, 2015 3:04 PM

SOMERVILLE, N.J. (AP) — A pastor lied when he said three masked people attacked him inside his church, scattered Bibles throughout the building and tied him up, prosecutors said Monday in announcing charges against him.

Jairon Pena told police that two men and a woman who were wearing masks and gloves accosted him late Friday morning after he went to the front door of the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Somerville to investigate a loud banging sound, investigators said.

A call to the church rang unanswered Monday, and a telephone number for Pena could not be located.

Pena told authorities the three attackers removed Bibles from the pews and scattered them throughout the church while making negative comments about his religious beliefs.

Police responding to a 911 call found Pena with his hands loosely tied with a rope behind his back. His legs also were tied, and a piece of cloth was stuffed into his mouth. Pena also had a plastic bag over his head, along with a piece of paper taped to his chest and back with a misspelled Islamic phrase.

Pena was alert and conscious when he was found, prosecutors said, but the 36-year-old Somerville resident didn't have any visible injuries. They also said the account he initially gave the responding officers contained "inconsistencies."

Prosecutors say investigators determined that Pena had fabricated the story and staged the scene at the church due to some undisclosed "personal events."

He's charged with three counts related to making a false report.