Pastor Appears in Colo. Court on Fraud Charges

September 25, 2007

A prominent pastor accused of filing fraudulent life insurance claims to funnel money to church groups he controlled appeared in court in Centennial, Colo.

Acen Phillips, 72, was accompanied by defense lawyer Gary Lozow but Lozow said he wasn’t representing him because Phillips hasn’t raised enough money to hire an attorney. Judge Anne Ollada set a hearing for Oct. 16 to determine who will represent Phillips.

Attorney General John Suthers last month filed seven counts of theft and five counts of forgery against Phillips, founder of New Birth Temple of Praise Community Baptist Church.

The charges allege he defrauded AIG Life Insurance Co. of $575,000. He could face up to 81 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines if convicted on all counts.

At issue are claims filed under a group life insurance policy taken out for American Church United, which prosecutors say Phillips headed.

After the hearing, Phillips was asked what he would tell people who say they didn’t get their insurance money.

“I don’t know whether that’s the case or not,” Phillips said.

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