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ABINGDON — A former companion care provider from Galax, hired to work with a social worker for the Grayson County Department of Social Services, pleaded guilty on Dec. 16 to federal fraud charges stemming from misuse of a debit card and theft from a bank account belonging to a patient the defendant was hired to care for.
Bernard Dale Satterfield, 46, was indicted in July, along with Jennifer Edwards Hall, 36, also of Galax. Hall, a former senior social worker who hired Satterfield, pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, one count of access device fraud and one count of bank fraud.
Last Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Satterfield pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and one count of access device fraud.
He will be sentenced on March 7, 2011.
“Mr. Satterfield and Ms. Hall stole money from an elderly woman who trusted them with her life savings,” U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said. “Ms. Hall was a government worker entrusted with caring for the vulnerable victim in this case. Rather than protecting that elderly victim, Ms. Hall enlisted Mr. Satterfield as her partner in a criminal scheme to loot the victim of her hard-earned money.”
According to court documents, Satterfield allegedly spent the money at restaurants in Virginia and North Carolina and paid for personal expenses.
“Their despicable acts of betrayal have justly landed them in federal court, where they will be punished for their actions,” Heaphy said. “When people prey upon our most vulnerable citizens in pursuit of their own greed, law enforcement will respond vigorously.”
According to the federal court, Hall and Satterfield have admitted to victimizing an 88-year-old person suffering from dementia. The pair wrote checks out of the victim’s account, without the consent of the victim, withdrew money from her back account and used that money for personal needs.
Hall also admitted to fraudulently negotiating a series of checks as a means of obtaining funds from an 81-year-old victim. She has admitted to taking this action without consent and for the purpose of using the funds for personal needs.
In all, a total of $34,853 was stolen from both victims.
At sentencing, Satterfield faces a maximum sentence of five years incarceration and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for the conspiracy charge and a maximum possible penalty of 15 years incarceration and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for the access device fraud charge.
The defendants have agreed to pay restitution in this case.
Hall will be sentenced Jan. 24, 2010.
At sentencing, Hall faces a maximum penalty of five years incarceration and/or a fine of up to $250,000 on the conspiracy count, a maximum penalty of 15 years incarceration and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for the access device fraud count and a maximum penalty of 30 years incarceration and/or a fine of up to $1 million for the bank fraud count.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Bockhorst is the prosecutor.
In the criminal complaint on file with the federal court, U.S. Secret Service Agent Greg Watson wrote that, when confronted about the missing money, Satterfield told him that the victim liked to keep her money in a “lock box.”
Watson said Satterfield told him that he had taken the victim to the bank to withdraw $7,500 and the cash was placed in the box.
When Satterfield opened the box for Watson, it only contained $1,000.
Satterfield told the agent that his “boss” at social services — Hall — borrowed some of the money, according to the court documents. Watson said Satterfield could not account for the rest of the cash.