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Funeral Home Director’s Bookkeeper Charged With Racketeering, Larceny

October 5, 2009
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Funeral Home Director’s Bookkeeper Charged With Racketeering, Larceny

The bookkeeper for an East Hartford funeral home director under investigation for allegedly stealing valuables and money from the homes of dead people was arrested Thursday and charged with racketeering and first-degree larceny.

The arrest of Yolande Faulkner, 54, of Bolton comes more than two years after state probate officials contacted the chief state’s attorney’s office about Kevin Riley, the funeral home director who also owns Hartford Trade Services in East Hartford.

Faulkner is being held, with bail set at $500,000, and was to be arraigned at Superior Court in Hartford today. She is charged with one count each of Corrupt Organizations and Racketeering Activity, first-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny and 10 counts of second-degree larceny.

The arrest warrant was sealed because more arrests are expected. A spokesman for the chief state’s attorney’s office said the arrest “is the result of a continuing investigation into the alleged theft of money and property from deceased persons and the alleged double billing of the state of Connecticut for expenses related to the transport and burial of deceased persons by Hartford Trade Service LLC.”

Although Riley was not arrested Thursday, his attorney, John Droney of Farmington, said it isn’t hard to see where the investigation is headed.

“You’d have to be an idiot to think they are just going to arrest one person who has worked for him all these years and then not come after Kevin Riley,” Droney said. “I am just totally shocked that she got arrested today because I thought this case was long over.”

Riley, through Hartford Trade Services, had an exclusive contract to transport bodies to the state medical examiner’s office. State probate officials grew concerned that Riley was using that contract to have himself appointed administrator of the estates of people with no relatives, giving him access to money and property with little or no scrutiny.

Riley was investigated by the Connecticut Board of Examiners of Embalmers and Funeral Directors and eventually fined $10,000, but was allowed to keep his license.

When he testified before that board, Riley said he had been unfairly portrayed as a “ghoul.”

“I’m not some Jeffrey Dahmer-type who went into these people’s homes late at night and robbed them,” Riley said. “I’ve never cheated anyone, never stole from anyone and never solicited business from anyone while picking up a body.”

Faulkner, who was the bookkeeper for Riley, also did some work for the Weston Auction House, which is near the Coventry Funeral Home, formerly owned by Riley.

Investigators from the chief state’s attorney’s office searched the auction house last February, looking for records of jewelry and other items sold there that sources said they believed had been taken from the homes of dead people Riley had picked up for the medical examiner.

Ronald Weston Jr., owner of the auction house, declined to comment on the investigation Thursday.

Source: Hartford Courant