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Former Funeral Director charged with Defrauding-YourFuneralGuy

17 Jan
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  Funeral director Pete...
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A former Funeral Director in Michigan has been charged with defrauding Customers. In this case The director not only hurt the families that bought preneed or prepaid policies he also hurt the former business owner of the Funeral Home.

This serves as a warning to those who want to exit the funeral industry and the need to check out who and how they dispose of their business.

Mr. Prochnow had purchased the business portion of the Bennett Funeral Home on S. Dixie Hwy. just south of Albain Rd. in 2006 from Darrell Bennett, who retired with his wife to Florida after selling the business.
But Mr. Bennett, now 78 years old, said monthly payments were not paid and he discovered other payments for services were ignored. Over the past several years, he said he personally lost a total of about $325,000 to bad business. When he returned from Florida this summer to take over operations, the company was in shambles.
Mr. Bennett said the building was not properly cared for — there wasn’t hot water — and the vehicles, including the hearse and limousine, were being repossessed though he had paid them off 10 to 15 years ago.
“I can never imagine anything of this magnitude ever happening,” Mr. Bennett said. “It’s put me in the biggest hole I’ve ever been in my lifetime.”
In addition to accusations of stealing money from Mr. Bennett, Mr. Prochnow has been charged with accepting prepaid funeral payments and using the money for his own benefit.


This shows that just taking a bank note may not be the best strategy, may not be the best strategy in exiting the funeral business- in an age of Funeral industry decline, when profits are down and cremation is on the rise.

Funeral industry| Funeral News | funeral blog by Your Funeral Guy

This article presents one more reason as to why one should not purchase funeral preneed or aprepaid funeral.

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Your Funeral Guy in Dow Jones Newswires

22 Dec
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Your Funeral Guy has been Featured in the Dow Jones NEWSWIRE  Prepaid Funerals Like Digging Your Own Grave 

December 2, 2010 9:16 a.m. EST


R. Brian Burkhardt is a funeral director in Illinois and Virginia who writes a blog called “Your Funeral Guy.”

It’s filled with handy consumer tips, as is his book, “Rest in Peace, Insider’s Look at the Low Cost Less Stress Funeral.”

Burkhardt also covers the funeral news:

“Mom fakes daughter’s funeral.”

“Father sues after son’s body falls out of casket.”

“Corpses to appear on cigarette packages.”

And, “Unclaimed cremated remains: A growing problem.”

One of the biggest stories on the funeral beat these days involves a St. Louis, Mo., company called National Prearranged Services Inc. and its related businesses operating in several states from Illinois and Ohio to Tennessee and Texas.

Federal prosecutors last week unveiled a 50-count indictment burying six controlling officials in assorted criminal charges: money laundering, conspiracy and wire, bank, mail and insurance fraud.

Defendants are Doug Cassity, 64; his son, Brent Douglas Cassity, 43; Howard Wittner, 73; Randall Sutton, 65; Sharon Nekol Province, 66; and David Wulf, 58.

The indictment alleges they took as much as $600 million that should have gone into trusts and life-insurance policies to cover as many as 150,000 funerals.

“White-out was the main tool,” Burkhardt said. “It’s sounds blastedly simple, but that’s what they did.”

Indeed, one of the many tricks alleged in the federal indictment is altering documents with correction fluid.

Money that should have gone into trusts or to pay life-insurance premiums for the funeral plans were diverted to pay for business investments, luxury homes and jewelry, the Feds allege. A Ponzi scheme for the dead?

Toni Weirauch, special agent in charge of IRS-criminal investigations in St. Louis, said his office “is committed to investigating individuals who allegedly use their businesses as personal piggy banks.”

The losses will go to state insurance guarantee associations, plan purchasers and funeral homes.

Connie James of James and Gahr Mortuaries in St. James, Mo., said her family-owned funeral business put all of its prepaid funeral funds with the company.

A state fund likely will get stuck with most of the tab for the prepaid services her company has contracted to provide, but not all of it. Some of the losses will be hers.

“You just pray every day that you’re going to be here tomorrow,” James said.

She has a name for defendant Doug Cassity, who went to federal prison in the early 1980s for charges stemming from his investment club.

“He is the Bernie Madoff of Missouri,” she said.

She wonders how so blatant an alleged fraud could have gone on for so long in an industry that is supposed to be regulated. Cassity’s criminal past, and issues with underfunded trusts dating back to the 1990s, didn’t set off the alarms until the shortfall was enormous.

“$600 million. That’s a lot of damn funerals,” James said.

National Prearranged Services sold folks on the idea that they could pay today’s prices for tomorrow’s funeral services. Say you put $5,000 down now, and if the funeral you want costs $15,000 due to future inflation, no problem.

“Any product that says, ‘We will cover you no matter how much your prices increase’ is too good to be true,” said Scott Gilligan, general counsel of the National Funeral Directors Association in Brookfield, Wisc.

“That should have been everybody’s first clue,” he said, “because nobody can do that.”

Burkhardt said he’s been warning consumers not to buy prepaid funeral plans for years. “It’s better to a get term life insurance policy and apply that money to the funeral,” he said.

He also says the scale of the National Prearranged Services case shows how easily prepaid funeral funds are diverted, and how long it can take regulators to do something about it.

“Every week, somebody misappropriates pre-need funds, and every two to three weeks somebody gets caught,” Burkhardt said.

“I have had a funeral director tell me, “When I can’t meet my payroll, I just borrow from the pre-need fund.” That’s fraud. But in their minds, it’s kind of their money.”

Burkhardt said he suspects business will go on as usual, despite the news he covers on his blog. Reading up on prearranged funeral plans isn’t something folks always do before they buy.

“People don’t want to talk about death,” he said. “You almost have to trick your mind to think about it. That’s why people buy these plans.”

–(Al’s Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. The column is published each Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. ET. He can be reached at 212-416-2617 or by email at, or on his blog at

(We invite readers to send us comments on this or other financial news topics. Please comment on Al Lewis’ blog at We reserve the right to edit and publish your comments along with your name; we reserve the right not to publish reader comments.)

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Funeral Industry| Funeral News| Funeral blog by Your Funeral Guy

Due to my stint in ICU and hospitalization it took some time to get this article up.

YOUR FUNERAL GUY HAS BEEN Featured in the Dow Jones News Wires. Your Funeral Guy is quoted but other opinions are mentioned.

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Eden Memorial Park Scandal-Evidence Tampering-Your Funeral Guy

30 Nov

In Eden Memorial Park  Cemetery Scandal, possible  Evidence  Tampering has been revealed by the World’s Largest Funeral Corporation, NYSE:SCI, Service Corporation International.

A Los Angeles judge has sanctioned Service Corporation International (SCI), owner of Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills, after finding that the cemetery intentionally tampered with and destroyed evidence related to a class action lawsuit alleging that Eden mishandled human remains.

Judge Anthony J. Mohr of the Los Angeles Superior Court ordered that the plaintiff’s attorney will be allowed to present evidence to the jury showing that SCI willfully tampered with evidence,


The Eden Memorial Park Scandal, along with the Burr Oak Cemetery Scandal led to National Cemetery Legislation, The Bereaved Consumers Bill of Rights Act of 2009 which appears to be dead in the  Lame Duck US Congress. The new Republican House of Representatives will not move this matter forward.

Funeral industry|Funeral News|Funeral blog by Your Funeral Guy


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National Prearranged Services Executives Indicted-Your Funeral Guy

23 Nov
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National Prearranged Services  (NPS) Executives have been indicted. These are responsible for 600-100 million dollars of preneed insurance funds.

ST. LOUIS | Officers at a prearranged funeral business defrauded customers, funeral homes and states out of as much as $600 million, according to a 50-count federal indictment announced Monday.

The U.S. attorney’s office in St. Louis announced indictment on fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and other charges against Randall Sutton, 65; Sharon Nekol Province, 66; Doug Cassity, 64; his son Brent Douglas Cassity, 43; Howard Wittner, 73; and David Wulf, 58.

All six defendants are from St. Louis County, and all were controlling officers for National Prearranged Services Inc., based in Clayton.

Brent Cassity is listed in the Missouri secretary of state’s office as the owner of Mount Washington Forever Funeral Home in Independence, which closed in July.


This is an incriminate story preneed  funeral theft and fraud. Incredibly the main tool in this incredible insurance theft were bottles of white out.

Officers of this company are now part of the criminal Lawsuit.

Funeral Industry| Funeral News | funeral Blog by Your Funeral Guy

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Worlds largest Funeral Corporation Gaining more Negative publicity-YourFuneralGuy

9 Nov

The Worlds Largest Funeral Corporation, SCI, NYSE: SCI is getting more attention with a body mixup Scandal. The wrong body in wrong grave is every funeral directors nightmare.

I am not at liberty to discuss it right now,” said Kim Perry from Stanetsky Memorial Chapels.

Perry runs Stanetsky Memorial Chapels in Brookline, where state investigators said her staff mistakenly mixed up the burials of two women, both named Evelyn.

“If any family disappointed in our service we’re always remorseful,” said Perry.

“I gave her a full Jewish burial and then this happens,” said Zippin.

Zippin’s mother Evelyn died in late August. He trusted Stanetsky Memorial Chappels to handle the internment, but state investigators say they made a grave mistake.

“They should have called me and told me, at least apologized, but no,” said Zippin.

Investigators say Evelyn was buried in Woburn. She wasn’t supposed to be there. Workers apparently mixed up the bodies of two women, both named Evelyn.


Funeral Industry| Funeral News| Funeral Blog by Your Funeral Guy

Kim Perry is a former state funeral leader in Massachucetts

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The Media is not slamming the Funeral Industry lately-YourFuneralGuy

27 Oct
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The  media has not been slamming the Funeral Industry lately-instead the have been providing information on  the great recession and consumers funeral cost and the turn towards cremation.

Msn Money, The Wall Street Journal, CNN,  The NewYork Times, the Huffington Post and many local papers  have covered the subject of the rise of cremation and the fact that people want to save on caskets , and other funeral products to Save on a Funeral.

Recently i gave advice to a friend on Funeral Cost. They decided to have a memorial service at a Nursing Home Rather thee  Funeral Home.

Some Funeral Director websites like Connecting and the Memorial Business Journal accuse the media continuing  be negative on the Funeral Industry by reporting scandal.

The fact is that Many Funeral Scandals do not make it into the Mainstream media. The Tale The Illinois Funeral Directors  Preneed Scandal is an example. The scandal was given extensive coverage in the Springfield, Illinois area but received minimal coverage in Chicago media and  no national media coverage.  The Burr Oak Cemetery Scandal, received extensive coverage in the Chicago area and other localities but little to no coverage in the National media

Funeral industry|Funeral News| Funeral Blog by Your Funeral Guy

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World’s Largest Funeral Corp,Wrong Body,Wrong Grave Scandal-yourfuneralguy

29 Sep
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The World’s Largest Funeral Corporation Service Corporation International, NYSE:SCI has found it self in a wrong body wrong grave scandal. Worse yet it involved a  Jewish Burial. This all took place in  Massachusetts.

The article entitled in the Boston Herald  “Funeral BigWig recuses Self on Burial Inquiry”

The scandal has wide significance because the Individual Involved Kim L Perry, who is (was)the Chairperson of the Massachusetts Funeral Board.


Kim L. Perry said she is a New England manager for Houston-based Service Corporation International, which owns Stanetsky Memorial Chapel in Brookline. Perry has been on the board since 2005. Her five-year term expires next month.

Stanetsky(memorial Chapel  buried one body on Aug. 26 in a grave meant for someone else, then exhumed it the next day and replaced the remains with the right body – all without ever pulling permits at the city’s health department, as required by state law, or notifying authorities, according to Stan Kaplan, executive director of the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts. JCAM owns the Chevra Kadusha Cemetery in Woburn, where the burial mix-up took place. Jewish law prohibits burying a body where another has been, because the ground is then considered desecrated. SCI said it is cooperating with the state.


Funeral Industry|Funeral News|Funeral blog by Your Funeral Guy

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