FLINT, Mich. (WXYZ) — The owner of Swanson Funeral Home pleaded no contest to two felonies for his role in failing to escrow money he collected from selling prepaid funeral contracts.
O'Neil Swanson II, 58, of West Bloomfield, was the owner and operator of the now-closed Swanson Funeral Home.
A LARA investigation led to Swanson's mortuary science license being suspended and the closing of his business. LARA discovered Swanson was advertising and selling prepaid funeral contracts without a proper license. There were also allegations of decomposing bodies found in a garage in the funeral home, as well as complaints about employees working on bodies without protective gear.
LARA referred the case to the Michigan Department of Attorney General, which executed search warrants on the business and Swanson's residence.
According to a release from the Attorney General's Office, evidence revealed that Swanson deposited some of the funds into his business account, which as used for business and personal spending, instead of depositing clients' money into an escrow account. The investigation found that 80 prepaid contracts, totaling more than $75,000, were either unfunded, underfunded or not properly escrowed.
Swanson pleaded no contest to two felony counts of Failing to Escrow Prepaid Funeral Contract Funds. Under the agreement, Swanson will receive an 11-month delayed sentence and is required to pay a restitution of at least $75,000 before the end of his delayed sentence. If he pays the full restitution amount, one felony will be dismissed and he will be sentenced on the remaining felony count.
“Exploiting Michigan Families while they are experiencing great suffering and personal loss is unconscionable,” Nessel said. “This plea agreement is an effort to return the money stolen from Swanson’s customers as quickly as possible and make certain he is held accountable for his actions.”