Sentencing postponed in funeral scam

WARREN – Sentencing for a former Girard funeral home director has been rescheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 5 so the defendant can have time to pay back more of the clients he and his brother ripped off in a pre-need funeral scam.

Robert J. McClurkin, 51, 219 S. State St., Girard, appeared Wednesday morning before Trumbull County Judge W. Wyatt McKay, who reset sentencing after announcing McClurkin had paid back about $150,000. The judge said he will need a full accounting of what is owed in restitution before pronouncing sentence.

McClur-kin on July 20 pleaded guilty to felony charges of theft from an elderly person or disabled adult, grand theft, theft, three counts of tampering with records, two counts of forgery and three counts of violation of a pre-need funeral contract.

Trumbull County assistant prosecutor Diane Barber said she will not make any sentencing recommendation until she sees how much progress is made toward restitution of some 33 victims in the case.

McClurkin’s attorney, Robert Shaker, told the judge his client will cooperate with the Adult Probation Department in a pre-sentence background report being compiled on the former funeral director.

McClurkin’s brother, Patrick, 50, 30 Abbey St., Girard, received no jail time but was sentenced by Judge Ronald J. Rice in May to 90 days of electronically monitored house arrest and five years of probation, and he also was ordered to make restitution of $204,268 by Jan. 1, 2017.

The McClurkins operated a funeral home of that name in Girard.

Prosecutors said Patrick McClurkin had agreed to testify against his brother, who dealt with the financial end of the family business. However, Robert McClurkin’s plea headed off a scheduled Aug. 29 jury trial in McKay’s court.

Prosecutors said the brothers stole about $450,000 from people paying for funerals ahead of time so their families would not have financial worries when they pass away. Authorities said about 40 other of McClurkin customers were reimbursed in insurance payments.