A man who operated a Westport funeral home stole about $53,000 from 39 grieving families and gave the wrong cremated remains to several families, according to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.
Koster charged Ronald C. Marts, 60, with stealing and unlawful business practices. Marts had operated Marts Memorial Home at 14 Westport Rd. from June 2005 to March 2011.
Marts declined comment Monday.
According to court documents, Marts accepted payment from consumers for pre-paid funeral services but failed to establish a trust fund for these monies. This meant he took $53,000 from his customers but failed to provide a safety net once he went out of business.
Marts is also accused of providing the wrong cremated remains to consumers. In some cases, he gave remains to grieving family members before their loved one had even been cremated, Koster's office said.
Court documents say the funeral home gave Hadley Cutburth ashes that weren't his wife's. His wife died July 23, 2010, and Marts gave the family an urn with ashes July 27, during Soledad Cutburth's funeral service. On Aug. 16, Cutburth called to receive his wife's death certificate. He was told the certificate was at the funeral home, along with his wife's remains.
Alarmed, Cutburth raced to the funeral home. According to court documents, he caught Kathy Marts attempting to remove a label from a box with his wife's name. He called police and was told that his wife's remains were in two boxes. Cutburth later learned his wife was cremated in Harrisonville about an hour after her funeral service began, according to court documents.
Marts faces up to 15 years in prison for the most serious charge. The other felony charges also carry prison sentences if Marts is convicted.
Andrew Smith, an attorney for Cutburth, spoke to KCTV5 Monday.
"I think we've all known for a very long time that some very bad things happened there," Smith said. "Because of the way those services were handled in many instances, my clients and their families have no idea where their loved ones' remains are even today."
Smith said heartbroken families are glad to see the charges brought, but will never have closure because of the uncertainty over the status of their loved ones' remains.
"We've waited a long time because we know the attorney general has done a very thorough investigation," Smith said. "I know our clients will be glad the fruit of the investigation is going to be born out."
P.J. Fisher told KCTV that she is one of Marts' victims. She said she is still paying off the loan for her father's burial that Marts never provided. She expects to never get back her more than $3,000 that she pre-paid for funeral services.
Instead, she was forced to cremate her father because she couldn't afford to pay for costs to a second funeral home. She said months later it still hurts because she feels that she let her father and family down.
"I had the suit picked out for Dad and everything. And then I had to tell them I couldn't do it," she said. "This was my Dad that I wanted to do right by til the end. And I wasn't able to carry out his wishes."
The state sought to revoke Marts' license. Another funeral home has taken over the operations at the Westport address.
If you paid money to Ronald C. Marts or Marts Memorial Services for funeral services that have not been provided, you are asked to contact the Attorney General's Office Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or go online to https://www.ago.mo.gov/.
To find out about a funeral home's license status in Missouri, click here. In Kansas, click here and here.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 6:04 PM EDT2013-05-22 22:04:40 GMT
MISSOURI CITY, TX (KPRC/CNN) - When a pregnant teacher in Texas collapsed, her coworkers rushed to help. The woman technically died, gave birth, and then was brought back to life. Erica Nigrelli, an EnglishMore >
A pregnant woman's heart stopped, and doctors performed an emergency c-section to rescue the baby and save the woman.More >
By Michael Martinez, CNN updated 3:23 PM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013STORY HIGHLIGHTSTerimy Miller puts her three small sons in the house closet as the tornado nearsBut she gets a feeling: "I just got toMore >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 6:13 PM EDT2013-05-22 22:13:31 GMT
Residents of a southern Overland Park neighborhood had feared a vicious killer was on the loose after a jogger was found dead, but his death has been ruled a suicide.Raheel Morani, 24, slashed his ownMore >
Residents of a southern Overland Park neighborhood had feared a vicious killer was on the loose after a jogger was found dead, but his death has been ruled a suicide.More >
Thursday, May 23 2013 11:55 AM EDT2013-05-23 15:55:08 GMT
(RNN) - Dozens of Cleveland restaurants have pledged to give the man who rescued three Ohio women from captivity, free burgers for life. Charles Ramsey, the guy who famously stopped eating his Big MacMore >
More than a dozen of Cleveland restaurants have pledged to give the man who rescued three Ohio women from captivity, free burgers for life.More >
Thursday, May 23 2013 9:09 AM EDT2013-05-23 13:09:22 GMT
It has been a difficult and long road to recovery for an 11-year-old victim of a hit-and-run. The girl's mother is making another plea to that driver to turn herself in. No one needs any medical trainingMore >
It has been a difficult and long road to recovery for an 11-year-old victim of a hit-and-run. The girl's mother is making another plea to the driver responsible to turn herself in.More >
Monday, May 20 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-20 23:51:52 GMT
DONIPHAN, AR (KAIT) – A search effort is underway in Southeast Missouri. The Hartland Pit Stop in Doniphan apparently sold a $1 million Powerball ticket this past weekend, but the winner has yet to comeMore >
A Southeast Missouri woman wrapped up a big week by taking home a piece of the record $600 million Powerball jackpot. More >
Thursday, May 23 2013 11:43 AM EDT2013-05-23 15:43:24 GMT
Fallen officer's daughter graduates from kindergarten
Hundreds of Phoenix police officers showed their support for a fallen colleague by attending his daughter's kindergarten graduation in Anthem on Wednesday. Officer Daryl Raetz was killed in the lineMore >
Tatum Raetz, 5, graduated from kindergarten in Anthem Wednesday and hundreds of uniformed Phoenix police officers were there to show their support for the family.More >