Police: Suspects took over Social Services clients' finances

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Criminal complaint provides more details of alleged fleecing of elderly clients by former employees of Grayson County Social Services.

By Landmark News Service

INDEPENDENCE — A former Grayson County Department of Social Services caseworker and a DSS caregiver took control of two elderly clients' finances and stole thousands of dollars, according to a criminal complaint filed June 16.
The charges came after a joint investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office.


Jennifer Edwards Hall, 35, of Galax and Bernard Dale Satterfield, 46, of Greensboro, N.C., were arrested on federal charges last Thursday. Both were released on a $10,000 unsecured bond, but additional charges are expected, according to Grayson Sheriff Richard Vaughan.
A criminal complaint with the U.S. District Court’s Western Virginia district in Abingdon alleges that Hall defrauded clients of more than $30,000 beginning May 11, 2009.
Hall, a former senior Adult Protective Services social worker for Grayson DSS, allegedly took control of an elderly client’s checking account and wrote “numerous” checks to Food City and Oldtown Market in Galax for personal items, according to investigators.
Hall allegedly obtained cash from Grayson National Bank from the same account. Hall signed both her name and the client’s name on each check, investigators said.
The unidentified male victim was referred to DSS after being financially abused and neglected by a distant family member. Hall placed the client in an assisted living facility, took control of the checking account and began making withdrawals from the account, according to a criminal complaint. The complaint states that Hall took about $8,300 from the client.
Investigators claim that Hall tried to “cover up” her use of the client’s funds by using DSS funds to pay for the client’s care.
Hall also took money from another client for her own personal use, according to the criminal complaint. In all, Hall is accused of taking more than $30,000 from clients from May 11, 2009 through May 12, 2010.
Satterfield, a former Grayson DSS caregiver, took control of an 89-year-old elderly female client’s checking account and ATM card, according to police. Satterfield allegedly used the ATM card to make cash withdrawals and to make nearly $3,700 in purchases in Virginia and North Carolina.
Satterfield’s client was referred to DSS for help with day-to-day care with meals and for companionship. As of December 2009, the client’s savings account balance was $49,000. As of May 10, the client’s account balance was about $25,000, the complaint states.
Investigators say that Satterfield paid himself in advance, receiving money for care-taking services through August 2010, although he was employed and paid through DSS.
Satterfield also obtained the only key to his client’s lockbox, which contained about $7,500 in cash, the report states.
During an interview with investigators May 14, Satterfield told police he kept the key so that the client couldn’t spend the money.
When an investigator and Satterfield opened the box it contained $1,000, according to the report. Satterfield claimed that his boss — Hall — at DSS, “borrowed” some of the money, the criminal complaint alleges.
Grayson County Department of Social Services Director Betty Richardson cooperated fully with the investigation, Vaughan stated.