Sep. 15—The Maine Board of Funeral Service agreed Tuesday to cut a deal with Ken Kincer, owner of Affordable Cremation Solution in Lewiston, that would prevent him from holding a funeral license for at least a decade.
The panel unanimously approved a proposed consent agreement that would, if Kincer agrees, allow him to seek a new license in 10 years if he can show he has rehabilitated himself and stayed away from drugs and alcohol for at least three years.
Kincer's business was shut down and its funeral licenses were suspended in June by Maine's Board of Funeral Service, which said it found unrefrigerated bodies stacked in its basement. Investigators cited a public health violation because they found an odor of decomposition and the unrefrigerated bodies of 11 people in the basement.
Sixteen new complaints heard by the panel Tuesday added little to the story already known: that bodies were found by investigators "in a state of severe decomposition and there were several flies" as well as dried blood that has oozed from the decaying corpses, one of them a grandmother who had opted for cremation because she feared having her body decompose in a graveyard.
"This is a massive loss of trust," board member Peter Arsenault said.
By offering a consent deal, the board would not need to prove the allegations in a public hearing unless Kincer decides to fight to keep his license, sparing family members from the necessity of testifying about their grievances and adding an administrative tangle that might prove problematic.
Board member John Brennan, who called Kincer's behavior "absolutely outrageous," expressed concern that "people are just going to find it hard to understand what more you have to do as a funeral director" to lose the license forever. He worried that the public won't look favorably on the panel leaving open a door for Kincer to return to the funeral business.
"This man's just made too many mistakes," Brennan said.
When the panel agreed to increase the period that Kincer would have to wait from five years to a full decade, he and other skeptics went along with the proposed deal.
It is not clear whether Kincer will accept the arrangement. He could turn it down and opt to fight the allegations in a public hearing before the board.
Kincer has, though, admitted that his own troubles impacted the families who relied on Affordable Cremation Solution.
The full response to the complaints filed with the Maine Board of Funeral Service by Kincer's attorney, John Clifford of Lisbon Falls is as follows:
"Mr. Kincer would like to begin by apologizing to all the complainants and their families for any pain and or hardship this situation has caused them. The death of a loved one is a sad and often times traumatic experience and the added grief that has come to them was certainly not his intention
"The last year and a half of Mr. Kincer's life has been what can only be called a living nightmare. He is deeply in the grip of depression and alcoholism. In January of last year he separated from his wife of 15 years. Going through a divorce is traumatic enough but soon thereafter Covid started. For the first time in a long time Ken found himself alone and isolated, having no one to talk to about his problems. He kept everything bottled up inside. The divorce from his wife was finalized on July 6, 2020.
"In February 2020 his 50-year-old sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a breast removed. Some months later in August the other breast was removed. Unfortunately this did not prevent the cancer from spreading to the rest of her body. The cancer is now considered terminal. She was previously so full of life. This was a devastating blow. This past March she went into the hospital and was not expected to make it out. Somewhat surprisingly she made it out of the hospital but has since gone into hospice care. Ken has watched his sister go through the torments of the damned, completely unable to help ease her pain.
"These events caused Ken to feel like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. Unsurprisingly, depression reared its ugly head. Most days the idea of leaving the house or even leaving bed was a bridge too far. He has been paralyzed by the depression and anxiety. Most nights he tosses and turns, unable to sleep. As a result of this his business suffered terribly and compounded his mental health problems. In order to try to cope Ken turned to alcohol. It was not healthy or successful method of coping as alcohol is a depressant. However, it at least dulled some of the pain temporarily. The drinking added to Ken's inability to leave the house.
"Ken is now actively seeking help to deal with both his depression and his substance abuse. This is not going to be an easy road by any means, as both depression and alcoholism are diseases. Often times it takes many months, if not years, of treatment for one to feel as though they have a firm grip on these diseases. Adding to this is the fact that his business has suffered to such a degree that Ken has found himself in a dire financial situation. The hope is that his financial situation will not hinder his treatment. Unfortunately, treatment is not free. Despite the financial strain Ken must address his issues and start facing life again."