Unlicensed funeral home under fire

Posted at 5:17 PM, Jun 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 11:52:53-04

The lights were on inside when we came knocking today at Golden Gates Funeral Home on Outer Drive in Detroit.

But owner Darius Hooper is nowhere to be found.

When you call the various numbers listed for the business you get a recording. And when you reach out to grieving customers, you get a story.

"What do I do?," asks  Deantai Box

He is at a loss. He hired Hooper to bury his Aunt Florine last February. But it turns out she isn't legally dead.
"Never got a death certificate," he says.

That's because officials need the funeral director's signature to declare Florine dead.

But we've learned Hooper isn't licensed. State officials confirming that to the 7 Investigators today.     

According to Box, he learned of the snafu from the funeral funding company that pays out burial claims. That company told him there are at least six other families in the same boat - all having to pay the deceased's debts until they are properly declared gone.

"Shes floating around like she's still alive," he says.

This family has spent months trying to get answers from Hooper.

"I don't have any closure at this point," he says. "There is no recourse."

Box has filed a police report with DPD, and a complaint with the attorney general.

Those agencies are hoping other customers come forward.

After our story aired, we received a statement from Golden Gates Funeral Home, which reads in part:

"Golden Gates Funeral Home has recently received false accusations from former client Deontae Box. Box alleges that Golden Gates Funeral Home failed to provide Death Certificate of loved one, however, the death certificate is still pending due to a lack of vital in-formation from the family."
Box also alleges that proprietor Darius Hooper is not legally licensed, however, that is also false. Al-though the state of Michigan does not require the owner of a funeral home to be licensed, But have an Licensed Manager Director on staff."
....Golden Gates Funeral Home has provided quality service since opening in 2014, and has never had any issue with clientele, or insurance providers. Golden Gates Funeral Home will continue in opera-tion, and will continue to work to resolve this issue with Box."

The 7 Investigators vetted this statement with the State of Michigan, primarily the claim about licensing.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs reaffirmed our original report, telling Action News in more detail today, "Funeral homes are required to be licensed and under the direction of a mortuary science licensee. We were unable to find any record for Darius Hooper or Golden Gates Funeral Home."

Furthermore, the Department told Action News, should any customer make a formal complaint, making them aware of an unlicensed funeral home, the state will launch an investigation which could result in action taken against the funeral home.