Funeral director accused of being 'unfit to practice'

·2 min read

Sep. 16—ALEXANDRIA — An administrative complaint has been filed with the Indiana Funeral Board against a local funeral director and funeral home following allegations that cremation documents contained forged information.

On Sept. 1, a complaint was filed against the license of Michael Owens and Owens Funeral Home in Alexandria.

Owens is accused of failing to abide by crematory requirements, which mandate that authorization for a person's cremation must be completed by an authorized person before the cremation. He is accused of forging initials for an authorization in 2019.

He is also accused of "continued to practice although the practitioner has become unfit to practice" due to failing to keep abreast of crematory authorizations, according to the complaint.

"I can't go into detail right now," Owens said when contacted about the complaint allegations. "All I can say to you is there is more here than meets the eye. There is more here than I can elaborate on right now."

Owens said he has provided funeral services within his community for more than 50 years and "you don't survive in a small town that long by cutting corners."

"The allegation was a knee-jerk reaction on my part," Owens said. "It was a poor decision, but I was under duress with some issues with the trustee's office and I really feel like that is all I can say."

According to the complaint, an authorization for a cremation for "H.G." was completed by Owens on June 5, 2019. Owens then presented the authorization to Amie Hood, a Monroe Township Trustee, and the trustee for H.G.

Hood said she was given only one page of authorization and signed the document, but eight days later she received a fax from the Northern Indiana Casket & Cremation Corp. with additional pages of the authorization form that listed her initials in someone else's handwriting.

According to the complaint, Owens admitted to Hood and Monroe Township Deputy Trustee Lyndi Martin on July 24, 2019, that he forged Hood's initials. He also issuing a refund check for $1,300 to the Office of the Monroe Township Trustee, the complaint maintains.

He is accused of signing a cremation form that he knew contained false or incorrect information, a Level 6 felony.

The funeral home is facing disciplinary sanctions for allowing fraud under its license, according to the complaint. Owens' actions violate state or federal regulations of the profession by depriving Hood of seeing all pages of the authorization for cremation form, the complaint says.

The Office of the Indiana Attorney General is requesting disciplinary sanctions and for Owens and the funeral home to pay all court costs and any additional relief as ordered by the board.

Follow Traci L. Miller @_TraciMiller on Twitter, email her at traci.miller@heraldbulletin.com, or call her at 765-640-4805.

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