Funeral Industry News

Prepaid Funeral Investigation Expands

October 16, 2009

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Prepaid Funeral Investigation Expands

An ongoing federal investigation into what federal prosecutors say is a decade-long fraud in the prepaid funeral business expanded Thursday with the indictment of another company executive.

Prosecutors say that executives of Clayton-based National Prearranged Services Inc. and others ran multiple scams involving the sale of prepaid funeral contracts that have or will cost multiple state agencies, consumers and funeral homes more than $600 million.

In August, NPS chief financial officer and director Randall Sutton, 63, of Chesterfield, was indicted on mail fraud, money laundering, and wire fraud charges.

Thursday, Sharon Nekol Province, 65 of Ballwin, was charged in a superseding indictment with five felony counts of mail fraud.

Province was president and office manager of NPS and held a position with an affiliated company.

NPS marketed the prepaid contracts as a way for consumers to ensure that they would not burden heirs with the cost of their funerals. The price they paid for a contract was used to fund a life insurance policy that would pay the actual funeral costs. But the indictment says that company executives and others knew as far back as 1998 that the anticipated costs were exceeding the anticipated insurance income by $98 million.

Source: St. Louis Today