Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Accused Lez Embezzlers Competent for Trial

The Des Moines Register continues to report on the preliminary proceedings leading up to trial in a month's time of two lesbians, spouses Phyllis and Marla Stevens, accused of stealing funds from an insurance company.

Both women were active in gay politics at the state level in Indiana and Iowa, where they were married, and one of the wives, Marla, once worked at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, DC.

There's been speculation that some of the stolen money was donated to gay advocacy and social service agencies, along with funds flowing to ballot initiatives and politicians, and I imagine the case will be back on the gay radar once trial gets underway.

Here's some news from the Register on the case:

Alleged Aviva embezzler Phyllis Stevens recently showed no problem understanding the legal charges against her and used jail slang to explain that she might serve hundreds of years in prison if convicted, a prosecution psychiatrist testified Friday.

"She said that if she is convicted and is 'boxcarred,' her prison term would be for a few hundred years," said Dr. Loren Olson, a Des Moines psychiatrist. "She said she heard the term in jail."

"Boxcarred" is an expression given to a jail sentence on multiple charges that is required to be served consecutively as opposed to concurrently.

Olson said that Stevens, 58, voluntarily used the term during an 80-minute evaluation he conducted May 28 to determine whether she is competent to stand trial in August on charges of money laundering, wire fraud, identity theft and computer fraud in connection with the theft of about $6 million from the West Des Moines insurance company.

Olson testified that his evaluation found Stevens competent to stand trial despite defense claims that she could exhibit the personality of a child during her trial as a result of being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, once more commonly know as multiple personality disorder.

Olson's testimony concluded a competency hearing before U.S. Senior Judge Ronald Longstaff, who took the issue under advisement. Stevens and her spouse, Marla Stevens, are scheduled to go on trial Aug. 16.

Phyllis Stevens, if convicted, faces up to 319 years in prison and $5.5 million in fines. Marla Stevens, who is charged with conspiring and spending money stolen from Aviva, faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison and $1.2 million in fines, if convicted. [...]

As far as I know, this is the most high-profile criminal case in any of the states or the District of Columbia where gay marriage is legal involving same-sex spouses, potentially establishing new areas of criminal law. I'm curious to see how the trial unfolds and resolution of the serious charges is achieved.

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