Jailed Colorado pastor has substance abuse problem

DENVER (AP) - A lawyer for a street ministry pastor accused of posing as a U.S. Marshal and handcuffing and robbing a man he lured to a Denver motel told a judge Thursday that he has a substance abuse problem and wants to be released from jail so he can seek treatment.

As Michael Todd Abromovich stood by dressed in a green jail uniform, public defender Lucy Martin told a judge that the 43-year-old had "very little ability" to post his $75,000 bond.

She said if Abromovich was released, he planned to check into a Salvation Army substance abuse program in Denver. Judge James Breese said Abromovich deserved a slight reduction in his bond, to $65,000, for acknowledging his problem.

Prosecutors argued against releasing him because they say he has four previous felony convictions. Through his lawyer, Abromovich said none of his previous offenses were violent and the latest was seven years ago.

In the current case, the victim told police he responded to an online offer of sex and met Abromovich at the motel in November. He said the pastor yelled "U.S. Marshals," slammed him against the door, handcuffed and searched him.

The victim said Abromovich took cash and a debit card from him as well as a computer, iPad and phone. Abromovich allegedly said he was sending them to a lab for a search for other evidence. Prosecutors say he pawned them.

Abromovich was arrested last month in Arizona, where U.S. Marshals helped track him down. The Marshals have said Abromovich was engaged in unspecified "suspicious activity" when contacted by Phoenix police, who discovered a warrant for his arrest from Colorado.

Martin said Thursday that he went there to seek treatment.

Abromovich worked at Set Free God's House, a Colorado Springs ministry for the homeless and people suffering from addiction. He served as a pastor there for more than a year, preaching, teaching Bible class and raising money.

A former colleague who said she was a former addict, Renee Simmons, came to court prepared to vouch for him but wasn't called to testify. She said Abromovich delved back into his addiction, which she didn't elaborate on, as he dealt with the stress of a new baby at home and his work.

"It's hard to fight it," said Simmons, who said she has been clean for 12 years.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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