Northeast Times

Frankford pastor charged in fraud

A Frank­ford evan­gel­ic­al pas­tor was charged with fraud last week after he al­legedly made $77,500 in in­sur­ance claims re­lat­ing to wa­ter dam­age at his church.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pennsylvania At­tor­ney Gen­er­al's Of­fice, the Great­er Beth­el Temple, a Pente­cost­al church at 4610-14 Tack­awanna St., sus­tained wa­ter dam­age on April 16, 2011. The state pro­sec­utor did not re­veal de­tails of the dam­age.

Bish­op Ben­jamin Fish­er im­me­di­ately re­por­ted the dam­age to the church's in­sur­ance car­ri­er, which the pro­sec­utor's of­fice did not identi­fy. Ini­tially, Fish­er al­legedly re­por­ted that one in­come-gen­er­at­ing event in the church had to be can­celed due to the dam­age, trig­ger­ing a “busi­ness in­ter­rup­tion clause” in the church's in­sur­ance policy. Hours later, however, Fish­er sub­mit­ted pa­per­work claim­ing that four events would be can­celed.

Two weeks after that, Fish­er sub­mit­ted ad­di­tion­al pa­per­work to the in­sur­ance com­pany claim­ing an ad­di­tion­al eight can­cel­la­tions, mak­ing it 12 can­celed events and $77,500 in fin­an­cial losses, the pro­sec­utor said.

In­vest­ig­at­ors ques­tioned Fish­er, who al­legedly ad­mit­ted that only four events ac­tu­ally had been booked and that he had ex­ag­ger­ated the in­come that those four would have gen­er­ated for the church. The pas­tor was charged with con­spir­acy, in­sur­ance fraud, for­gery and at­temp­ted theft. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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