Niles funeral director sentenced for pre-pay scam - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Niles funeral director sentenced for pre-pay scam

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A Niles funeral director, who ran what authorities called a “pre-pay funeral scam”, has been sentenced to three years behind bars.

When Robert McDermott, 52, of Niles, was sentenced on Wednesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, the judge also ordered him to make $172,800 restitution.  McDermott admitted his guilt in May to 10 of the 19 counts against him.

Prosecutors said the victims trusted that McDermott would put their money into a trust account to eventually pay for funeral arrangements. However, the money disappeared.

McDermott apologized to the victims who waited in court to learn his sentence.

"I'm very, very sorry to the people that are effected by this, it was not intent to harm them," McDermott said. "I always provided everybody with their service, if not extra."

But Chuck Morrow, Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor, said McDermott mismanaged more than $250,000, much of which is still unaccounted for. In some cases, insurance companies are stepping in to assume contracts signed with McDermott.

The charges McDermott plead guilty to include; theft of the elderly, grand theft, forgery, and tampering with evidence. McDermott was stripped of his funeral license by the state when it was discovered he failed to properly fund the pre-paid funerals. 

After McDermott completes his sentence, he'll be placed on probation for five years.

Also in court, Vanessa Niekamp, Executive Director of the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.

She said this case alone has forced some consumers to think twice about pre-paying for final resting expenses.
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