Funeral home issued second shut down notice by state.
MANISTEE (WPBN/WGTU)– The State of Michigan has issued a second shut-down order against a funeral home in Manistee.
The Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) issued the order to cease and desist was issued to Johnson Funeral Home, P.C., 480 Water St., and its manager Denis R. Johnson.
The investigation by LARA shows that funeral services have continued at the business without mortuary science licenses.
In November 2016, the State summarily suspended the funeral home’s mortuary science establishment license, its prepaid funeral and cemetery sales registration, and Johnson’s individual mortuary science license. Formal complaints and a notice and order to cease and desist were also issued at that time.
The orders were issued by Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ (LARA) Bureau of Professional Licensing (BPL) and its Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing bureau. Investigators subsequently discovered that the funeral home continued to provide funeral services after its mortuary science licenses were suspended, and BPL issued a second cease and desist order.
LARA documents state these actions resulted from an investigation conducted by the CSCL Securities & Audit Division that found multiple violations of the Prepaid Funeral and Cemetery Sales Act (the “Prepaid Act”), MCL 328.211 et seq., and the Occupational Code (the “Occupational Code”), MCL 339.101 et seq., including:
- Engaging in the practice of mortuary science after their licenses were suspended.
- Failing to escrow at least $223,118.33 for prepaid funeral goods or services related to
- 75 prepaid funeral contracts.
- Failing to deposit monies with an authorized escrow agent within 30 days of receipt.
- Fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in the practice of mortuary science.
- Incompetence in the practice of mortuary science.
Funeral home manager Denis Johnson said he first received the initial order from the state in early December.
Johnson said he has tried contacting the state agency to set up a meeting, LARA has not replied leaving him in limbo.
Johnson said he will likely not re-open his funeral home, instead he’ll continue to work with other funeral homes in the area to satisfy any pre-paid arraignments.
There was never any intent to defraud his customers, he said, calling it a matter of circumstances. He said he welcomes clients to call him to discuss arraignments.
Members of the public who have questions or concerns regarding the operation of Johnson Funeral Home may contact the Securities & Audit Division within LARA’s Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing bureau at 517-335-5237, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or by email at [email protected]
According to LARA, engaging in or attempting to engage in the practice of an occupation regulated under the Occupational Code without a license is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a criminal fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both. A second offense is punishable by a criminal fine of not more than $1,000, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. A person who converts funds paid pursuant to a prepaid contract to his or her own use or benefit other than as authorized by the Prepaid Act or who fails to escrow or trust funds according to the Prepaid Act is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of $5,000 or imprisonment of not more than five years, or both, for each violation. A person who violates any other provision of the Prepaid Act is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, for each violation.
Story and photo used by permission from WPBN/WGTU/UpNorthLive.com, © 2017.