COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Friends of Colorado Springs Pastor Michael Abromovich say his life of preaching Christian values began unraveling last fall after he told them he had been diagnosed with cancer and was dealing with a new baby in his family.
Their fears and concerns for Abromovich came to fruition when the man who mentored many others in Christian values at the Set Free Ministry ended up in a jail cell, charged with posing as a U.S. marshal to intimidate and rob gay men who thought they were meeting Abromovich for casual sex.
“He showed us that we couldn’t trust him anymore by the way he was acting, the things he was doing,” said Pastor Robert Murphy, who preached alongside Abromovich at the Colorado Springs ministry.
“Impersonation of this, robbery — that is so the opposite of what any Christian would be about. We know there is definitely something wrong,” said Murphy.
According to court and police documents obtained during a CBS4 investigation, a man calling himself “Mike” was posting ads on Craigslist last fall offering to engage in casual sex with other men.
One man told police he exchanged messages and pictures with “Mike” and agreed to meet him at a Denver motel. But he says when he got there, “Mike” leaped from a car yelling “U.S. marshals … threw him against the door, and then handcuffed and searched him.”
The man then told police “Mike” forced him into a room where the victim says he was held at gunpoint by what turned out to be a paintball gun.
“Mike told him that he was looking for evidence,” says a police affidavit which then recounts Abromovich taking the man’s laptop computer, iPad, iPhone, cash, debit card and his car keys.
“Mike then told him they were taking his computers and phone to be sent to the lab to look for evidence.” The victim told police his assailant masqueraded as a law enforcement officer saying he would come by the man’s home the next morning “to discuss the case with him and impound his vehicle at that time.”
Denver police later reported that Abromovich called the motel in advance “and identified himself as law enforcement to the clerk … and he had a badge.”
Police issued a nationwide warrant for the Colorado Springs pastor for aggravated robbery, kidnapping and impersonating a peace officer — all felonies.
On Dec. 20, Phoenix police pulled Abromovich over for a traffic violation but say he showed them some kind of a badge. Suspicious, officers dug deeper and found Abromovich was being sought by Colorado authorities. He was arrested and placed in the Maricopa County jail.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office says Abromovich was returned to Colorado last Friday and is scheduled to appear in a Denver courtroom Tuesday.
“While this is the only case identified at this point, the possibility is there this is not the first time this occurred,” said Lynn Kimbrough, a spokesperson for the Denver District Attorney’s Office. “As far as I know he does not have any legitimate law enforcement credentials.”
Kimbrough said the investigation is ongoing and authorities believe it’s possible there are other victims.
As the former pastor now deals with serious criminal accusations, his former church colleagues say they are baffled by the turn of events but are confident things will turn out for the best.
“God has saved him because he put him in jail … but he has to pay for what he has done,” Murphy said.