A woman who embezzled $6 million from the insurance company where she worked, spent $175,000 on political campaigns and blamed it all on her split personalities has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Prosecutors say that Phyllis Stevens, who is 59, siphoned money off Des Moines-based Aviva USA for years by creating fake insurance agents and paying them huge commissions, which were wired into a bank account that Stevens and her wife, Marla, held in another state.
The Stevenses donated some $175,000 to state and federal candidates in 2006 and 2008, They chose mostly Democrats, including former Rep. Betsey Markey (D-CO) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Democratic groups, like MoveOn and the Democratic Party of Iowa, but also gave to some Republican women.
Stevens’ scheme had been going on for years before someone at Aviva noticed in September 2009, according to court documents. When confronted with the evidence and put on administrative leave, Stevens immediately flew to Indiana, where her bank account was held, and began withdrawing as much cash as possible.
Both women were charged with crimes, including money laundering, embezzlement and filing false tax returns. They both pleaded guilty in September 2010. Phyllis was sentenced last week to six years; Marla, to three and a half years.
Marla Stevens admitted to spending large sums of the money Phyllis had embezzled, including a $400,000 room service tab from the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.
Before the sentencing, their lawyers argued for leniency based on mental health issues. Phyllis Stevens, her lawyer said, suffered from dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder. He said she didn’t even know that one of her 400 to 500 personalities had been embezzling money until she was confronted by her bosses at Aviva.
Her lawyer also reportedly told the court that Stevens is a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson.