Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians


May 31, 2013

Bishop charged with insurance fraud

HARRISBURG-Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced today the filing of criminal charges against Bishop Benjamin Fisher of Philadelphia. Fisher is accused of insurance fraud relating to water damage at his church.  Investigators say he lied to an insurance company, claiming that booked events had to be cancelled due to the damage. (The policy contained a "business interruption clause" that would result in payments to the church if events had to be cancelled due to a covered loss.)
Fisher is Bishop of Greater Bethel Temple, 4610-4614 Tackawanna Street, Philadelphia, PA.  He filed an insurance claim stating that on April 16, 2011, the church building sustained water damage. Fisher initially told the insurance company that one event had to be cancelled because of the damage. Later that day, Fisher filed paperwork claiming four events had to be cancelled.

Investigators say two weeks later, Fisher submitted paperwork claiming an additional eight events had to be cancelled. The final total was 12 cancelled events, resulting in $77,500 in losses. If the insurance company had paid the "business interruption" claims, the total for those alone would have been $44,700.

Investigators say the claims were not valid. They say Fisher later admitted that he simply made up eight of the events and, though the four other events were real, he exaggerated the amount the church would have gotten for hosting them. 

Fisher faces the following four charges: one count of Conspiracy, one count of Insurance Fraud, one count of Forgery, and one count of Criminal Attempt Theft by Deception.

(Persons accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

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