Funeral home director charged with forgery, fraud
Pennsylvania prosecutors charged a Shenandoah funeral director Monday with altering a life insurance policy to try to gain $10,000.
Stephen F. Oravitz, owner of Oravitz Home for Funerals Inc., 40 N. Jardin St., faces two counts of forgery and one each of attempted insurance fraud and attempted theft by deception, all of which were filed by the office of Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane. Magisterial District Judge Anthony J. Kilker, Shenandoah, arraigned Oravitz on Monday on those charges, set his bail at $10,000 unsecured, which allows him to remain free pending further court action, and scheduled his preliminary hearing for 10 a.m. May 2.
The funeral home itself also has been charged with the same crimes.
Prosecutors allege Oravitz, 58, of 135 Brandonville Road, Ringtown, submitted change of ownership and beneficiary forms in July 2011 to Mutual of Omaha without the consent of the policyholder.
"The individual who owned the life insurance policy ... reported that she had never authorized any changes to her life insurance policy," according to prosecutors.
Kane said the policy owner had dealt with the funeral home regarding her late husband's arrangements and allegedly provided Oravitz with a copy of the cover page of her $10,000 life insurance policy while prearranging her own services. The woman also provided Oravitz with the name and telephone number of the beneficiary of the policy to assure that money existed for her future interment, according to Kane.
Prosecutors said this is an ongoing investigation and encourage people who have made funeral prearrangements and provided insurance information in connection with that to make sure no changes have been made to their policies without their authorization. Anyone who believes he or she is a victim, or has information about Oravitz, is asked to call Special Agent Doug Hilyard at 717-787-0272.
Deputy Attorney General Kelley Nelson of the office's insurance fraud section will be prosecuting the case against Oravitz.
When contacted Monday, Oravitz declined to answer any questions on advice of counsel.