A Fayette County funeral home director is facing charges for allegedly stealing $284,000 from clients -- mostly seniors -- who pre-paid for their own funerals.
Stephen Kezmarsky, III, 50 was arrested and charged with taking the money from 51 clients for funeral expenses at the Kezmarsky Funeral Home, officials said.
“Kezmarsky kept his clients' funds and used them for business expenses of his funeral home, and worse, he actually used it for personal gain," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Monday morning at the Fayette County Courthouse, where he was surrounded by some of those victims.
NEW: Judge sets $500K straight bond for Stephen Kezmarsky III, the former Uniontown funeral home director charged w/ stealing $284K in prepaid funeral expenses from customers. #WPXI pic.twitter.com/OVQ3YnjO72— Aaron Martin (@WPXIAaronMartin) January 22, 2018
WPXI’s Aaron Martin is talking with people who are victims in this case. Watch for complete coverage on Channel 11 News beginning at 6 p.m.
Instead of putting the money in escrow accounts as required by law, Kezmarsky is accused of misappropriating the money by mixing the funds with his business and personal accounts, officials said.
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Investigators said Kezmarsky used the funds for business expenses and for personal use, including purchasing airline tickets and alcohol.
“He's a crook," said Fred Gergely. "He came to my house, sat on my couch and talked like we were long-lost friends. We paid him this money and he just ripped us off.”
Kezmarsky is also accused of filling out applications for funeral insurance policies for clients, but never sending the money or applications in for processing.
HAPPENING NOW: AG @JoshShapiroPA announces 84 felony charges against Fayette Co. funeral home director Stephen Kezmarsky, who allegedly stole $284K in prepaid funeral expenses from clients. #WPXI pic.twitter.com/TFI7P7Uc09— Aaron Martin (@WPXIAaronMartin) January 22, 2018
Kezmarsky and the funeral home filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and the funeral home has since been sold. Investigators say they have complaints against him going back to 2001, but the statute of limitations prevented them from going back further than 2010.
Kezmarsky is facing 84 felony counts including theft by deception, forgery and insurance fraud. He is housed in the Fayette County Prison on $500,000 straight bond.
Investigators believe there may be more victims. People who believe they were victimized are urged to contact the PA Attorney General’s office or the Fayette County District Attorney’s office at 724-430-1245.
“We believe there are other victims out there," Shapiro said. "Not just the individuals standing behind me and not just the individuals, the 51 that we are aware of.”
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