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A gay rights activist from Des Moines has been accused of embezzling nearly $6 million from her employer Aviva, a global insurance company.
Phyllis Stevens, a 35-year employee of the company, has allegedly been
funnelling money into a bank account owned by both her and her wife,
Marla Stevens. While Phyllis is named as the perpetrator, Marla is also
named in the suit because she benefited from the five-year scheme. Marla, who is listed in campaign finance records as the director of publicity for the LGBT Fairness Fund, has yet to be charged.
Mike Miller, Aviva's general counsel, said they confirmed that approximately $5.9 million has been misappropriated from the company, though according to The Des Moines Register, the figure is not cited in the civil lawsuit filed on Friday with the U.S. district court in Des Moines.
A representative from Marriage Equality USA says that Phyllis Stevens served as a volunteer Chapter Leader for the MEUSA Central Iowa Chapter from April of 2007 until September 2009.
"We are stunned and bewildered by the news we are reading from Iowa, and due to the situation Stevens was removed as a volunteer leader," a statement to Advocate.com said.
Phyllis Stevens is currently in custody with the U.S. Marshals office after a federal investigation led to her arrest in Las Vegas on Friday; she is charged with money laundering and wire fraud.
According to an affidavit filed by an FBI special agent, a fellow employee of Aviva discovered Stevens's activity on September 22 when performing a financial review.
Campaign finance records show that the couple individually donated thousands of dollars to local and federal progressive causes and candidates including Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and MoveOn.org.
All of their assets have since been frozen by the federal government.