CHICAGO — The former controller of a Chicago health club has pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge for embezzling more than $4 million from the club.
PETER CRAIG SAVELY, 58, of Chicago, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of bank fraud. The conviction is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million, and restitution is mandatory. U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman set sentencing for Feb. 2, 2023, at 2:00 p.m.
The guilty plea was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Douglas Zloto, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Secret Service Chicago Field Office; and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson.
Savely admitted in a plea agreement that from 2013 to 2020 he issued purported payroll checks on the club’s bank account to four employees. Savely signed the checks as the club’s controller and, since the checks also required the signature of the club’s Chief Financial Officer, forged the CFO’s signature without the CFO’s knowledge, the plea agreement states. Savely then forged the payees’ signatures to fraudulently endorse the checks and deposited them into bank accounts that he controlled, the plea agreement states. As a result of the fraud scheme, Savely converted more than $4.1 million for his own personal use. Savely admitted that he attempted to conceal the embezzlement by regularly making false entries in the club’s financial ledgers and causing the losses associated with the checks to be spread across multiple departments, thereby making the losses harder to detect.