A pastor in Colorado Springs, Colo., has been arrested and charged with posing as a U.S. marshal, kidnapping, and robbery after. He allegedly arranged a meet-up with a gay man for casual sex via Craigslist, but then proceeded to pose as a member of law enforcement, taking the gay man's possessions such as his laptop and cell phone.
The Rev. Michael Abromovich, pastor of Set Free Christian Ministry in Colorado Springs, appeared in a Denver courtroom Tuesday to face his charges of kidnapping, robbery and impersonating law enforcement, all of which are felonies. An investigative report conducted by the local CBS 4 News channel found that last fall, Abromovich was allegedly posting Craigslist ads under the name "Mike" propositioning men to meet him at local Denver motels to engage in casual sex.
Police documents obtained by CBS 4 reportedly indicate that one victim claims to have met "Mike" online, and the two agreed to meet at a local motel. When the victim arrived, "Mike" reportedly told him he was U.S. Marshal, and handcuffed him and proceeded to take his belongings, including a laptop, iPad, iPhone, debit card, car keys and cash, telling him they were "evidence." Additionally, Abromovich reportedly held a gun to the victim's body in the hotel room; the gun later turned out to be a paintball gun.
Police documents also indicate Abromovich had told the clerk's desk at the motel that he was law enforcement and showed them some sort of badge. Police indicate that there could be more cases of Abromovich harassing men, although only one victim has come forward to share their story.
Abromovich was stopped by law enforcement for a traffic violation in late December in Phoenix, Ariz., and when police noticed there was a warrant out for his arrest in connection to the recent robbery, he was extradited to Denver where he now awaits trial for his charges.
Pastor Robert Murphy, who preached with Abromovich at their Set Free Christian Ministry Church, told CBS 4 that he and other congregation members are shocked by their pastor's charges. "Impersonation of this, robbery – that is so the opposite of what any Christian would be about. We know there is definitely something wrong," Murphy told the media outlet.
Another pastor in Northern California has recently been charged with fraud, perjury, arson and conspiracy in recent weeks. Mark Lewis, pastor of the Fellowship Baptist Church in Vacaville, Calif., was arrested two weeks ago on charges that he recruited three other church members to help him carry out an arson attack on an ex-girlfriend. Two weeks later, police showed up at Lewis' church to comb for financial records after discovering that apparently his church was never registered as a nonprofit or incorporated, but reportedly used the legal status of another church as its own. Lewis is currently out on a $500,000 bail.
"I don't know what to think," Vacaville resident Scott Tunstall recently told NBC Washington. "I mean a minister--you'd think there should a higher standard there."
In a third recent case, Richard Shahan, former pastor at First Baptist Church of Birmingham, Ala., was arrested at the Nashville International Airport on New Year's Day after prosecutors accused him of murdering his wife, Karen, who was found stabbed to death in the couple's home in July. Prosecutors are accusing Shahan of killing his wife and attempting to flee to the United Kingdom to live with his boyfriend, although Shahan has claimed that he was leaving the country to embark on a three-year missionary journey.