Funeral Director Charged With Forgery, Fraud

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SHENANDOAH -- The state attorney general is encouraging anyone who has made funeral arrangements already and provided insurance information to funeral directors to make sure there have been no changes to those policies.

It comes after charges against a funeral director in Schuylkill County accused of forging a life insurance policy so that his business becomes the beneficiary of the policy.

Steve Oravitz runs a funeral home in Shenandoah. He now finds himself in trouble with the law. The attorney genera'ls office charged him with forging a name on an insurance policy naming his business as the beneficiary of a $10,000 policy.

Oravitz admits to the forgery.

"If I have to plead, I`ll plead guilty to only using my clients signature, using her name, other than that I don't think I did anything wrong."

Investigators said Kathleen Nalipi said she brought her life insurance policy to Oravitz  and named her son as beneficiary.  Investigators said the funeral director took the woman's policy, forged her name and made his funeral hom* the beneficiary of the policy.

Nalipi said she was shocked.

"I don't understand why a man in his position would do something like this."

Oravitz admits to forging the name but explained he had to do it to get control of the insurance policy.

"When we are contacted by a family and insurance is to be used as collateral for the funeral, the funeral home takes control of that policy."

The most serious charges are felonies. That means if Steve Oravitz is convicted, he could face some jail time.  Katherine Nalipi said that's something she wants to see.

"I would like to see this man have a hefty fine, that he could not practice any longer and to do jail time, absolutely ."

It's not the first time a funeral home in Schyylkill County has been in trouble.

Last February , William McDonald of Girardville, who used to run the McDonald Funeral Home, was charged with theft. He was accused of accepting an $8,100 check for burial expenses but using the money for something else.