Married Activists Phyllis + Marla Stevens Didn’t Escape $5.9M Fraud With Multiple Personality Defense


Married lesbians Marla Stevens and former Marriage Equality USA’s Iowa chairwoman Phyllis Stevens — who denied allegations in 2009 they embezzled $5.9 million from Phyllis’ ex-employer Aviva, the insurance provider, and donated some of it to LGBT groups — will both serve jail time for their scheme, a judge ruled after the pair was convicted of the fraud. After initially pleading not guilty, both women admitted guilt but claimed childhood abuse and Phyllis’s dissociative identity disorder (she claimed to have more than 100 different personalities) led to the fraud. Phyllis, who was handed a six-year sentence, says she was only made aware of the fraud one of her other identities perpetrated when Aviva officials confronted her. Marla will serve three years. In addition to giving some money to gay groups in the state,, the pair also spent $400,000 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, charged some $2.8 million to their AmEx cards, paid the IRS $950k, and bought two homes in Des Moines’ Sherman Hill area, which they’ve since lost.