September 21, 2014

Elyria
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UPDATED: Sheffield Lake man charged with embezzling from Medical Mutual

A Sheffield Lake man has been charged in U.S. District Court with allegedly embezzling $2.9 million from Medical Mutual while working as a manager for the insurance company.

Joseph Satava III, 69, was charged by way of information with one count of theft or embezzlement in connection with health care. An information bypasses the grand jury process and typically involves an agreement with the defendant for a plea.

Dan Wightman, one of Satava’s defense attorneys, said his client has reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors following months of negotiations, although he declined to discuss the specifics.

“It’s a tragic case because this is a guy who’s never done anything wrong in his life,” Wightman said.

Satava allegedly stole the money between August 1997 and November, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Steven Dettelbach.

Satava, who began working for Medical Mutual in 1971, used his position as a manager to identify weekly printouts of company accounts to identify new companies that had signed up for health insurance and what their first payments were, according to the news release. Those payments were known as “binder payments” and were credited to the clients’ accounts at the end of each month.

Most weeks Satava allegedly selected two to four companies that had made binder payments under $5,000 and created reimbursement checks for the same amount, the release said. He then created paperwork that listed the name of an employee with the client company and filled out paperwork stating that the insurance coverage had been denied.

Rather than run the checks through the normal “binder suspense account,” Satava charged the checks to another account that processed billions of dollars per year.

“As such, the checks created by Satava were immaterial in amount relative to the volume of funds passing through this account, so the checks were not detected,” the release said.

By using the larger account, Medical Mutual didn’t know about the reimbursement checks, which Satava forged the client company employee names to before depositing them in his own checking account, according to prosecutors.

Satava allegedly created 1,382 checks using the method during his time as manager of credit and collections. He used the money to cover living expenses, including purchasing furniture and household items, paying the living expenses for his adult son, a car loan, travel, personal vacations and a retirement home on Lake Erie.

“It started small and unfortunately it ended up being what it is,” Wightman said.

He said the thefts were discovered around the time Satava retired from the company.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.


  • Julie O’Brien

    so were the employees whose name he used left without insurance as well?? And we wonder why insurance costs so much!

  • Joe Smith

    I guess he won’t be needing that retirement home as the state will be providing that

  • grannyof6

    How could it take so long to find out a 69 yr. old man stole 2.9 mil from medical mutual, where are the checks and balances for this rip off company? As if our premiums are not enough! He’s worked there since 1971 and hasn’t retired? Guess greed paid better. He’ll probably get his full retirement to. What next?

  • Otter

    2.9 mil, over a 16 year period…plus a pay check, makes me wonder, why he needed a car loan…..

    • Phil Blank

      To cover his rip off.
      A big score like that, you have to be careful how you spendit so as not to alert the company.
      As for the retirement home, don’t know how he handled that? Another loan, or cash, which I doubt.

  • tickmeoff

    What he did was wrong, but to get away with it for this long is pure genius!

  • WTFnext

    He only got charged with one count of theft. Where are the 1382 counts of forgery?? People do jail time for forging one document. I bet he gets a slap on the wrist. SMH

  • tickmeoff

    “It’s a tragic case because this is a guy who’s never done anything wrong in his life,” Wightman said. Oh yes he has Dan, actually since August of 1997 to November of 2013.

    This man is as sharp as they come! Rather than run the checks through the normal “binder suspense account,” Satava charged the checks to another account that processed billions of dollars per year.

    “As such, the checks created by Satava were immaterial in amount relative to the volume of funds passing through this account, so the checks were not detected,” the release said.

    By using the larger account, Medical Mutual didn’t know about the reimbursement checks, which Satava forged the client company employee names to before depositing them in his own checking account, according to prosecutors.

    Satava allegedly created 1,382 checks using the method during his time as manager of credit and collections. He used the money to cover living expenses, including purchasing furniture and household items, paying the living expenses for his adult son, a car loan, travel, personal vacations and a retirement home on Lake Erie.

    “It started small and unfortunately it ended up being what it is,” Wightman said.

    At least there was no violence involved, and no drug dealing done. It sounds like he will get a sweet plea deal. Some people have all the luck!

  • Bonnie Pickett

    White collar crime does pay while small time offenders charged with small crimes will go to jail for a long time. I would bet that part of his plea arrangement means that he gets probation and a short time behind bars for $2.9 million theft. He had money to pay for a great attorney so he will have it easy. Only the poor get large jail sentences and the rich (made even richer by stealing from the public) get a slap on the wrist. This is not a victimless crime because everyone who pays for insurance will pay for his crime.

    • Joe Smith

      Before you jump on the mostly hard working rich, have you ever got a job from a poor man? Most everybody here owes their living to someone who risked it all and became successful enough to be wealthy and offer jobs.

      • Bonnie Pickett

        I hardly think this man was hard working. I have employed people at my business for 40 years. Because he stole money from his employer, he had money to hire a good attorney (with that money). Greed is the downfall of many people.

        • Joe Smith

          That money would have been confiscated and his accounts frozen and my comment was about your comment “Only the poor get large jail sentences and the rich (made even richer by stealing from the public) get a slap on the wrist.” Indicating that people get rich by stealing instead of hard work like it is most of the time.
          You were attacking the rich which you likely owe to the fact you got your job from one or several.

  • Bruce Tennant

    It’s his own version of the affordable care act

  • Otter

    “never done anything wrong” or never got caught?