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Prominent Iowa LGBT Activist Charged With Embezzling Millions From Employer

This one is gonna hurt. Phyliss Stevens, chairperson of the Iowa chapter of Marriage Equality USA has been arrested and charged with embezzling $5.9M from her insurance company employer. Her wife Marla Stevens, a contributor to the LGBT activism blog Bilerico Project, has also been named as a co-conspirator. Marla is the public policy director at the LGBT Fairness Fund.

A Des Moines woman has been accused of embezzling an estimated $5.9 million from Aviva USA in a scheme discovered by company employees last week and has been arrested on federal charges. Lawyers for Aviva also filed a civil lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Des Moines naming Phyllis Stevens and her spouse, Marla, of defrauding the company in a five-year scheme. Phyllis Stevens, a 35-year-employee of Aviva and a predecessor company, Indianapolis Life, allegedly devised a program to have fictitious agent commission payments paid by Aviva into a bank account jointly held by the two women. The civil suit names only Phyllis Stevens as the perpetrator of the embezzlement, but also names Marla Stevens as receiving the benefits “as a result of the conversion of funds.”

GOP blog The Iowa Republican is already on the story, demanding that the many political candidates who received donations from women return the money to Phyliss Stevens’ employer. The couple donated more than $60,000 to various candidates and causes since 2007. Expect this story to dominate the headlines on right-wing blogs for a long time. Bil Browning at Bilerico has much more on the story.

NOTE: The above post has been edited and corrected.