IONIA, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – The former director of a Michigan funeral home is heading to jail for up to four years after stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in funeral funds.
Marti Schrauben of Portland, Oregon was sentenced to 16 months to four years in prison on 18 counts, including embezzlement, insurance fraud and racketeering. He also owes court fines, costs and fees.
Prosecutors say Schrauben forged death certificates and submitted fake claims to insurance companies, stealing an estimated $500,000. He was caught after his business partner discovered money was missing from pre-paid funeral accounts.
Restitution will be determined in a future hearing.
Schrauben in March pleaded guilty to one count of uttering and publishing. The 39-year-old also pleaded no contest to forgery, uttering and publishing, insurance fraud, and embezzlement — all felonies.
He was originally charged with 27 counts related to racketeering and embezzlement, stemming from his time working at Schrauben-Lehman Funeral Home in Ionia.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Schrauben agreed to pay full restitution of $496,381.70, including more than $184,000 for funerals provided by Schrauben-Lehman Funeral Homes without compensation.
Funeral home owner Michael Lehman earlier told the Sentinel-Standard of Ionia he’s honoring agreements customers made with Schrauben.
“You can’t ask the family for more money,” Lehman said. “Trust is very important to me – it’s an important word. You’ve got to have trust from the people you serve.”
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