Aurora pastor charged with theft, forgery
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Attorney General John Suthers filed theft and forgery charges against the Rev. Acen L. Phillips on Tuesday, accusing him of fraudulently getting life insurance benefits from AIG Life Insurance Co.
Phillips, of suburban Aurora, faces seven counts of theft and five counts of forgery. He could face up to 81 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines if convicted on all counts.
Phillips’ attorney, Gary Lozow, did not immediately return a phone call. He has said Phillips did nothing wrong.
Suthers said AIG was defrauded of $575,000. He said at least some of that money went to church groups Phillips controlled.
Suthers said the charges stem from five cases in which the families of deceased church members were asked to file claims against AIG based on a group life insurance policy Phillips had taken out.
Suthers alleged some of the five were not covered under that policy. In all five cases, Phillips is accused of creating faudulent beneficiary documents to funnel more money to church groups he controlled, Suthers said.
One of the five cases involved Shely Lowe, who died in May 2006. Police in suburban Aurora had named Lowe a person of interest in the disappearance of 7-year-old Aarone Thompson.
Aaron Thompson, Aarone’s father and Lowe’s live-in boyfriend, has been indicted on charges of fatal child abuse and other counts in the case.
Phillips is pastor of New Birth Temple of Praise.
AIG filed a civil suit in March accusing Phillips and four affiliated church groups of submitting fraudulent life insurance claims on behalf of parishioners.
The lawsuit claimed Phillips and the four groups of providing life insurance policies to 316 people but arranged for any payouts to go to him and collaborators.