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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. ••

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