A San Diego area mortuary has been put on probation and a former director’s license has been revoked because he allowed an employee to embalm bodies without a California license. According to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Poway-Bernardo Mortuary, recently featured on A & E Channel’s program called “Family Plots,” has been accused of engaging in unlicensed embalming, fraud, negligence, incompetence and unprofessional conduct.
An investigator at the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau reportedly got a tip from a staff member at the mortuary that director, Richard Sadler, was allowing an unlicensed employee to embalm remains. Sadler no longer works there, the newspaper reported. The mortuary may still operate, but under the careful observation of state officials. It could take up to three years to restore its good standing with officials, the article said.
An investigator reportedly caught the mortuary “in the act” of violation on July 27, 2006 when he paid an unannounced visit and found an employee wearing an apron with blood on it. The employee at first told the investigator he hadn’t done any embalming, but later recanted his story and admitted to doing it. Sadler reportedly paid this man $100 per embalming under the table and told employees to “keep it quiet.”
Actually he went far enough to assure his employees that investigators “never work on weekends, holidays and night time.” He also made employees falsify death certificates showing that Sadler performed the embalming when they were actually done by the unlicensed employee.
It’s amazing that these investigators don’t find more cases of cemetery and funeral home fraud. At Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, we constantly hear about it from clients who pay thousands to lay their loved one to rest and in turn find that they were shortchanged by these unethical businesses. Shoddy embalming is a huge problem in this industry today. We see evidence of this all the time.
In fact, one of the families we’re representing right now is pretty mad at a Palos Verdes mortuary for doing a really bad job of embalming a loved one. When the family arrived for the viewing, the room where the grandmother was placed was swarming with flies and filled with a nasty stench.
These businesses must be brought to justice. Penalties must be increased for businesses that get involved in illegal practices. Families that have been victimized by these funeral homes or cemeteries will be well advised to contact a personal injury attorney or file a complaint with the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau.