Ohioan charged with embezzling $2.9 million

By MARK GILLISPIE Associated Press Published:

CLEVELAND -- A former longtime employee of Ohio's biggest health insurance company has been charged in federal court in Cleveland with embezzlement for diverting nearly $3 million in phony payments into his own bank account.

Joseph Satava, 69, of Sheffield Lake, was charged Monday.

Hired by Medical Mutual of Ohio in 1971, he is accused of creating nearly 1,400 phony checks that he deposited into his own account between August 1997 and November 2013.

Satava would create reimbursement checks in the names of people insured by Medical Mutual through their employers, prosecutors said.

He would write that people were being reimbursed after their health insurance coverage had been denied. Satava would then forge the person's signature, sign the back of the check himself and deposit them into his bank account using ATM machines, prosecutors said.

He got away with the embezzlement scheme, prosecutor said, by using a company account through which billions of dollars flowed, making the small amounts difficult to detect.

Satava would typically create between two and four of the phony reimbursements a week, prosecutors said.

A charge by information generally indicates that a defendant has agreed to plead guilty and to cooperate with prosecutors.

Satava's attorney did not return telephone calls seeking comment. Calls to Satava's home also were not returned.

Prosecutors said in the information that they will ask a judge to seize $2.9 million of Satava's assets if he is found guilty.

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