Funeral misappropriations alleged

WARREN – The suspended directors of McClurkin Funeral Home in Girard face 178 administrative violations with Ohio’s Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, with more than half of the charges accusing the brothers of misappropriating $400,000 from 2005 to 2012.

New details available in minutes from the state board’s September meeting, when members voted to suspend the licenses of Robert J. and Patrick J. McClurkin and their license to operate the funeral home, show 90 separate instances where money was paid in advance for services, but not entrusted.

Under Ohio law, when a consumer pays in advance for funeral services, the funeral home is required to place the money in an insurance policy, trust or annuity to guarantee payment when the person dies.

In one instance, a person made multiple payments from 2008 through January in amounts ranging from $100 to $1,100, according to the minutes. In 2008, this person also made multiple payments of $11,590.

Details in the minutes state records, such as bank receipts, copies of cashed checks, accounting lists and preneed files, taken during an investigation that included local police, show it was determined the directors misappropriated $440,479.

Records for this year have not been obtained.

A statement posted on the board’s website uses stronger words, accusing the McClurkins of stealing the money from numerous consumers, placing the funeral services of these people in ”clear jeopardy.”

The other charges relate to not filing annual reports for preneed contracts over the seven-year period.

Attorney Harry J. DePietro, who is representing Patrick J. McClurkin, said a full hearing before the board has been requested, but a date hasn’t been set.

Attorney Robert Shaker, representing Robert J. McClurkin, declined to comment.

Investigations into McClurkin’s books, along with the financial accounts of an unrelated troubled Trumbull County funeral home, the Robert P. McDermott Memorial Home in Niles, are continuing.

The violations against McDermott involve converting more than $150,000 he received, also for preneed services, for his personal use.

Joining the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office and police in Girard and Niles are the Ohio Department of Insurance and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, an arm of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, that is providing forensic auditors to review the financial books of both funeral homes.