Funeral home investigated

McDermott Funeral Home

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Investigators found remains of 42 cremated customers at a Niles funeral home embroiled in investigations that led to the director’s decertification and the funeral home to be sold in foreclosure.

Search warrant affidavits for the Robert P. McDermott Memorial Funeral Home say the cremated remains were found in temporary containers, marble urns and plastic bags. They also confiscated funeral home records and computers.

The funeral home director, Robert McDermott, of Lincoln Avenue, could be facing charges that include third-degree felony theft and fourth-degree felony selling contracts, according to the affidavits.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors that found McDermott failed to put $150,000 of customer’s money they prepaid for funeral services into a trust account as state law dictates.

The affidavits and board records say McDermott used the money for personal use. McDermott filed for bankruptcy for the funeral home, which was recently sold at a sheriff’s sale.

McDermott, records say, attributed the wrongdoing to poor business management that occurred because he was focused on providing service to his customers.

Ohio law dictates that funeral home directors must put the money for prepaid services in a trust account within 30 days, which McDermott failed to do for more than 50 customers, records say.

McDermott told the board during hearings that he failed to put the money in trust accounts for 50 customers. McDermott’s licenses were permanently revoked by the board on July 13. He is currently challenging the ruling in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

McDermott’s funeral home was sold last Thursday through the sheriff’s sale.

In one case, the affidavit says a customer in July 2011 gave McDermott $1,582 for funeral services. McDermott sent a check in September 2012 for the same amount to a trust fund for the customer but there were insufficient funds in McDermott’s account.

Records says McDermott returned prepaid funds to a few customers.

“Neither Mr. McDermott nor the funeral home currently has the financial resources to repay all individuals whose money he took but did not fund their pre-need funeral contracts,” a board ruling that revoked McDermott’s license says.

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