Tuesday, October 06, 2009

More On GLBT Activist Charged With Embezzling $5.9 Million

The Des Moines Register continues its healthy coverage of one of the biggest embezzlement schemes in that state's history. A former Indianapolis couple, Phyllis and Marla Stevens, stand accused of receiving $5.9 million from Aviva, the life insurance company that employed Phyllis for 35 years, through a scheme Phyllis allegedly devised to pay herself commission payments over a 5-year period. The money was deposited into a joint account the couple maintained at a National City Bank branch in Indianapolis. According to today's story, an FBI analysis claims the couple withdrew $1.12 million from the account between December of last year and June of this year. The Register's Tom Witosky reports:

Phyllis and Marla Stevens drained more than $1.12 million from their Indiana bank account between late December and the middle of June, a financial analyst for the FBI said in court documents filed Monday.

James Rumph, the analyst, made the claim in an affidavit made public as part of a successful move by federal prosecutors to freeze an Indiana bank account held by the couple and to keep them from selling two Des Moines properties that Rumph says were purchased with money allegedly embezzled from Aviva USA by Phyllis Stevens.

Phyllis Stevens, 58, a former compensation specialist for Aviva, has been charged in a federal criminal complaint with money laundering and wire fraud in connection with an alleged embezzlement of $5.9 million from the worldwide insurance company. Stevens was arrested Sept. 25 in Las Vegas.

William Kutmus, a Des Moines criminal defense lawyer and likely attorney for Phyllis Stevens, said he wasn't sure when she would arrive in Iowa. Kutmus said expects to seek her release on bond.

Trever Hook, who represents Marla Stevens, could not be reached for comment.
Witosky's report indicates that a federal court judge has frozen the Stevens' National City Bank account and has enjoined them from attempting to sell two homes the couple recently purchased for cash in the Des Moines area. According to the report, Marla attempted to sell one of those houses on contract after Phyllis' arrest. Phyllis has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering. Although Marla has not been criminally charged to date, she is named in a civil lawsuit Aviva brought against the couple in federal district court in Des Moines to recover the money.

The Stevens, together, contributed more than $170,000 to Democratic candidates during the last two election cycles. The biggest recipient of those contributions was U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), who received more than $25,000 from the couple. The Indianapolis Star continues its news blackout of the story despite the fact that the scandal began here in Indianapolis and was broken by its sister newspaper in Des Moines. Star editor Dennis Ryerson formerly served as editor of the Register before becoming editor of the Star a few years ago. The only Indiana-based news source that has covered this story has been WIBC radio.

UPDATE: I've learned a few more facts from the civil lawsuit Aviva filed against Phyllis and Marla. According to the complaint, Phyllyis used a stolen social security number belonging to a Hammond, Indiana person identified only as A.R. to identify the recipient's name for tax purposes when she set up the fictitious commission payments in Aviva's computer system. The complaint also alleges that Marla and Phyllis own five homes, including two in the Des Moines area, two in Indiana and one in Florida.


indyernie said...

A little birdie told me that we should listen to Rush Limbaugh over the next few days. It seems that this story has attracted his attention.

artfuggins said...

When you call WIBC a news station, you are really stretching. WIBC is an entertainment station offering political comedy.

Russ said...

As a side note, at least we can look forward to the Star's news coverage perhaps getting better after Ryerson departs, like the Register did.

That is, if the Star survives long enough to see Ryerson's departure.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

"When you call WIBC a news station, you are really stretching. WIBC is an entertainment station offering political comedy."
Kinda like the Indy Red Star Rag which is the media arm of the liberal Democrat Party, parading as a newspaper.

Deuteronomy said...

Not quite sure how the GLBT aspect fits into the big picture here. Nothing about this embezzlement scheme seems unique to lesbian couples. The causes they supported might be liberal, but is there any other reason GLBT is relevant?

Advance Indiana said...

Marla spent years lobbying for GLBT causes in Indiana. When they moved to Iowa, Phyllis became co-chair of Iowa Marriage Equality and Marla served as director of GLBT fairness. Their support of political candidates was directed at candidates they believed were supportive of GLBT issues. It appears their desire to do more financially drove them to do what they are accused of doing. Does that not make the GLBT association relevant, Deuternomy?

campaign rehtoric said...

Regrettably, gay activist Marla Stevens supported those candidates she liked with stolen money and was a pathological liar about those she did not, all candidates suffer as a result as does our community.