NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – After a long investigation, a former Niles funeral home director agreed Thursday to a plea agreement to spare him from spending the next 50 years behind bars.
Robert McDermott of McDermott Funeral Home appeared nervous as he faced the judge. The former Niles funeral home director pleaded guilty to 10 of the 19 charges he was originally charged with, including grand theft, theft from an elderly person and violating the contracts of pre-paid funerals.
McDermott did not have a comment after his court appearance. His attorney said he may issue a statement at his sentencing on June 11. He faces three to 25 years in prison and also must make restitution.
He is accused of stealing $280,000 in prepaid funeral money from customers.
“That money is then supposed to be sent to appropriate insurance companies or placed into a trust account. Mr. McDermott did not do that,” said Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Chuck Morrow.
The prosecutor credits the work of Niles Police Capt. Ken Criswell and the board of embalmers and funeral directors for getting most of the money back to the victims.
Last August, investigators found remains of 42 cremated customers in temporary containers, marble urns and plastic bags. The subsequent investigation led to McDermott’s de-certification and the funeral home to be sold in foreclosure.