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Indiana funeral director accused of stealing prepaid money, switching ashes

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Indiana prosecutors say a funeral director misused his customers' prepaid funeral money, cremated humans and pets together, and gave the wrong ashes back to families:

A southern Indiana funeral home director faces more than 60 charges for allegedly defrauding families of money and delivering bogus cremated remains to others.

Richard D. Pyke was already in jail at the Clark County Detention Center facing similar charges. On Tuesday, prosecutors filed an additional 36 charges against him, including theft and insurance fraud.

Asst. Chief Prosecutor Jeremy Mull says Pyke mishandled money intended for a cemetery trust fund, which was established for families who pre-paid for burial services.

Indiana State Police found human bodies and several dogs at Pyke's crematorium in May, some of which had begun to decay.

Pyke also faces charges of violating Indiana's cremation statute for allegedly providing families of the deceased with bogus remains. Some of the latest charges deal with infants, whose bodies were found in a refrigeration unit at Pyke's funeral service in Henryville, Indiana.

WDRB-TV has the whole story here.

Last Updated ( Friday, 26 August 2011 11:44 )
 

Wall Street Journal on the Undertakers vs. the Monks

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8/27/2010— The Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece on the Louisiana Funeral Board's embarrassing crusade to put the Benedictine Monks out of the casket business. Some LA undertakers offered some choice quotes:

"They're cutting into our profit," says Leonard Dunn, the owner of Serenity Funeral Home, located a short drive from the abbey. He adds. "I don't think the monks are actually making the caskets—I think it's a marketing gimmick."
Boyd Mothe Jr., a member of the fifth generation of his family to run Mothe Funeral Homes outside New Orleans, says Louisiana's law should remain on the books because licensed directors have the training to sell caskets—transactions he calls "complicated." For instance, he says, "a quarter of America is oversized. I don't even know if the monks know how to make an oversized casket."
Some in the industry complain that Funeral Consumers Alliance unfairly smears the industry's reputation. We don't need to, since funeral directors are doing such a competent job themselves.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 March 2011 22:51 )
 

Louisiana goes after monastery for selling coffins; monks sue

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UPDATE 7/23/2011---Chalk up another loss for the bier barons. The US District Court for the Eastern District of Lousiana ruled the state's ban on retail casket sales is unconstitutional. Judge Stanward R. Duval, Jr.'s opinion is particularly damning to the state's claim that the law, which allows only licensed funeral directors with full-service funeral homes to sell caskets, was essential for "public health and safety."

Clearly, [Louisiana’s Embalming and Funeral Directors Act] does not protect consumers from higher prices. Moreover, the fact that any Louisianian can purchase a casket on line without the “aid” of a funeral director results in the only persons being protected are the funeral directors of Louisiana and their coffers. The Act only applies to in-state sales. Other forms of distribution (such as delivery in Louisiana of containers purchased out-of-state, gift and home manufacture for personal use) are not prohibited.

Last Updated ( Friday, 05 August 2011 13:40 ) Read more...
 

California Audit: $70 Million in Prepaid Funeral Money Misused

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7/6/2010 --- Need one more reason not to prepay for your final arrangements? California regulators announced that one of the largest trust funds holding consumers' (that's you) prepaid funeral/cremation/burial money has misused $70 million. The California Funeral and Cemetery Bureau audited the California Master Trust and found [CLICK READ MORE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE]:

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 October 2010 14:40 ) Read more...
 

Virginia Passes Refrigeration Law

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6/18/2010 — In response to the discovery of corpses left out of refrigeration to rot and leak in a back room of National Funeral Home in Falls Church (owned by megaconglomerate SCI), the Virginia Legislature passed a law requiring funeral homes to refrigerate or embalm bodies if more than 48 hours passes after death and before disposition. Importantly, the law bars funeral homes from embalming without the express permission of the family. This means funeral homes will have to offer refrigeration as standard practice, and won't be able to force families to "choose" embalming in order to comply with the 48-hour rule (which unfortunately occurs in many states).

Here's how the Washington Post described the scene at National Funeral Home back in 2009:

During his time there, Napper [a former embalmer turned whistleblower] said, as many as 200 corpses were left on makeshift gurneys in the garage, in hallways and in a back room, unrefrigerated and leaking fluids onto the floor. Some were stored on cardboard boxes or were balanced on biohazard containers. At least half a dozen veterans destined for the hallowed ground at Arlington National Cemetery were left in their coffins on a garage rack, Napper said.

- hat tip to Brian Ditzler of the FCA of Maryland and Environs for alerting us to the new law.

 

 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 29 July 2010 00:37 )
 


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