A Loudoun County man admitted in federal court Monday that he stole nearly $8 million from civil settlements that were supposed to be paid to children whose parents had died of medical malpractice.

Joseph E. Gargan, 59, of Round Hill, Va., was chief executive of the Pension Co., an Arlington firm that handles settlements between parties in civil suits, transferring money from defendants to plaintiffs and buying annuities for juveniles involved in such suits. The company said in a news release in 2014 that it was the fourth-largest structured settlement company in the United States.

Prosecutors said the federal government hired the Pension Co. to transfer funds in six cases where children suffered the loss of a parent due to medical negligence at a federally operated or insured hospital or clinic. In each case, the government was ordered to pay the plaintiff an amount of money and to purchase an annuity for a child.

Between December 2015 and August 2019, prosecutors said, the government transferred $15.9 million to the company to settle those cases. Gargan acknowledged Monday that he stole $6.9 million of those funds. In a seventh case involving a hospital in New York, the hospital paid just over $1 million to purchase an annuity for the care and ongoing medical treatment of a child. Gargan took all of the $1 million, prosecutors said.

Authorities said Gargan created false documents claiming to show he had purchased the annuities when in fact he had taken the money for his personal use. Gargan also acknowledged making some payments to the recipients claiming they were from an annuity, when they were only made to conceal his larger thefts.

Gargan pleaded guilty to embezzlement of government funds and wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. His sentencing was set for Sept. 23. His lawyers declined to comment Monday.