KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Attorney General is filing criminal charges against a former funeral home director in a story that FOX 4 news first started investigating two years ago.
Ron Marts is now facing ten felony charges including theft, deceptive business practices, and violating state laws about pre-need contracts. Pre-need contracts are for people who want to pre-pay for a funeral. People do it for peace of mind, but according to the Attorney General’s investigation, Marts wasn’t even licensed to sell pre-need contracts and now it appears that the money is gone.
Back in July 2010, FOX 4 first told you about Hadley Cutburth, who was certain that funeral director Ron Marts gave him the wrong ashes at his wife’s funeral. After his wife’s funeral, he got a call from the funeral home saying that they had his wife’s ashes ready for him to pick up, so he knew something was wrong. The Attorney General investigation confirmed that at the time of his wife’s funeral, she hadn’t even been cremated yet.
After Cutburth came to FOX 4 with his story, we investigated and found Marts Funeral Home was already on probation for things like shoddy record keeping and not storing bodies in proper temperatures. The state revoked Ron Marts funeral directors license and the funeral home was forced to close last spring. Just before closing, investigators came to the funeral home, taking pictures and collecting bags of evidence.
Friday, the Attorney General’s office issued the warrant for Marts arrest and a judge set a 20-thousand dollar bond. In a news release, the Attorney General’s office says that Marts is accused of giving the wrong remains to two different people, and selling pre-need contracts without a license. The court records also say Marts never set up a proper trust account for the pre-need money.
Cutburth has also filed a civil suit against Marts. Cutburth’s attorney Andy Smith says his civil case was set to go to trial in October, but it’s not clear how the civil case will be impacted now that Marts faces criminal charges. Smith says that these criminal charges confirm what he and his client have been saying all along, “that there was something terribly wrong going on there” at Marts funeral home.
The Attorney General’s office says Marts faces 15 years in prison for the charge of stealing over $25,000, seven years in prison for selling pre-need contracts without a license, and four years for the charge of “Unlawful Merchandising Practices.”
The Attorney General says people who paid for funeral services that were not provided should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or online at ago.mo.gov to file a consumer complaint.