Former Milwaukee funeral director Jimmy Davis Jr. pleads guilty to three felonies

Jimmy D. Davis Jr., the ex-funeral director who pocketed thousands of dollars from grieving families, pleaded guilty Thursday to three felonies including embezzlement and identity theft.

Davis ran two well-known north side funeral homes until his businesses came crashing down last year under the pressure of state regulators and the criminal investigation. On Thursday, Davis, 40, sat quietly during a brief hearing in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Both he and his attorney, Avery Goodrich, quickly left the courtroom without comment.

The plea agreement did not include any sentencing recommendation for his crimes. The penalty for the embezzlement charge is a maximum of 10 years, while the other two charges carry maximum prison time of six years each.

More:Milwaukee funeral home owner Jimmy Davis Jr. hit with new charge after transporting a body in violation of court order, prosecutors say

Prosecutors will likely seek prison time for Davis, although the actual sentence will probably be far less than the maximum penalties.

He is scheduled to be sentenced by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Danielle Shelton in April.

Prior to his conviction, Davis was an outgoing funeral director whose clients included Milwaukee County. Since 2019, the county paid Davis' business $555,600 to transport dead bodies.

The county cut ties with Davis about a year ago, well after he was under regulatory scrutiny and about seven months after he was charged with embezzlement.

Davis has continually denied any wrongdoing. In interviews with the Journal Sentinel last year, he blamed many of his problems on a funeral director who had died.

Davis has said his funeral home at 4803 W. Burleigh St. closed in 2021. His second funeral home, located at 6709 W. Capitol Drive, closed last year after regulators posted cease and desist orders on the doors of each business.

Davis was charged in September 2021 with felony embezzlement for stealing $15,000. Authorities said he pocketed prepaid funeral funds from a customer's trust account and spent the money.

Despite the charges, he continued working in the funeral business. Last April, Shelton banned Davis from "picking up human remains from anywhere in Wisconsin" or directing others to do so.

More:Ex-funeral home owner Jimmy Davis charged with ID theft, bringing the roster of felony charges against him up to four

Shelton's order, which set conditions of Davis' bail on the felony charges, also prohibited Davis from possessing "any human remains, including cremains, at any of his funeral businesses." The order also demanded that "any remains currently in his possession should be turned over to the Milwaukee Police Department, an authorized funeral home, or to the family of the deceased."

The bail conditions came at the request of prosecutors and state regulators. Regulators said they urged the county to seek the restrictions because they had "received several complaints that Mr. Davis was recently engaging in the unauthorized practice of funeral services," even though Davis was facing criminal charges.

In November 2020, regulators suspended the license for Davis' Burleigh Street funeral home, but stayed the suspension and required the home to submit regular reports about the operation. In August 2021, the state lifted the stay and enforced the suspension for failure to submit the reports, according to a proposed stipulation agreement obtained by the Journal Sentinel.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Former Milwaukee funeral director Jimmy Davis Jr. pleads guilty to three felonies