Illinois Cemetery and Funeral Home Association Condemns Burr Oak Crimes

September 23, 2009
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July 2009 – The Illinois Cemetery and Funeral Home Association (ICFHA) strongly condemns the crimes committed at Burr Oak Cemetery. “What these employees did violates everything we stand for, and offends a code of conduct that has governed our industry for centuries,” said Vickie Hand, Treasurer of the ICFHA. “What happened is not only abhorrent and appalling, but it is clearly criminal. It violates laws and regulations that we have helped to craft over decades, and that we have worked hard to enforce.”

“Everyone wants to know how this could have happened,” said Harvey Lapin, General Counsel for the ICFHA. “There is no easy answer, except that, sadly, criminals break laws. These employees appear to have broken many laws – laws that our association helped put in place precisely because we understand the pain and horror that these actions cause.

“There seem to be a number of major laws that were broken,” Lapin added. “The Illinois Cemetery Protection Act makes it a crime to willfully damage, destroy or desecrate human remains and grave markers without authorization. Both the Illinois Cemetery Care Act and the Illinois Pre-Need Cemetery Sales Act make it a crime to steal people’s deposits on funeral and cemetery merchandise and services. These are in addition to crimes of property theft and deceptive business practices.”

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A full list of the laws that ICFHA believes govern this situation is posted on the home page of ICFHA: www.icfha.org.

“The core of our business is providing people with the comfort that we will care for their loved ones and maintain their trust,” added Hand. “We are committed to doing everything we can as an association to help the victims and to ensure that this never happens again.”

ICFHA is an Illinois State nonprofit trade association whose members consist primarily of companies that engage in the cemetery, funeral home and crematory industry businesses in Illinois. ICFHA was established in 1928 and currently has more than 300 members. In 1975, ICFHA established the first state Consumer Advocate Committee in the industry. This committee was the basis for the establishment of a national consumer complaint mechanism (“Cemetery Consumer Service Council”) and similar committees in many other states.

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