Monroe funeral director indicted on wire fraud charges

A grand jury indicted a Monroe County funeral director on charges of wire fraud after he allegedly claimed money from the funeral insurance of his living customers.

Joel L. McGuire, of Union, is charged with defrauding Homesteaders Life Co. out of more than $75,000 in falsified claims from April 2010 to August 2012.

McGuire, director and co-owner of Broyles-McGuire Funeral Home, LLC, which is now closed, served as an agent for Homesteaders and sold insurance to his customers that would pay for their funerals after their death. He sold insurance policies to his clients from August 1999 to January 2006.

“McGuire falsely represented to Homesteaders Life, over the telephone and the internet, that certain clients had died and that Broyles-McGuire had provided funeral services to those clients, when in fact the clients were still living and Broyles-McGuire had not provided any funeral services,” the indictment reads.

After receiving the funds, McGuire deposited checks into the funeral home’s bank account. McGuire was the only person who issued, endorsed and deposited checks into that account, according to the indictment.

The company, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, offers insurance that covers costs of funerals upon the death of the insured and operates through agents, typically funeral home owners or directors, who sell the insurance to their customers.

Upon the death of someone insured by the company, the agent is to contact Homesteaders to initiate a claim by providing the insured person’s name, date of birth, date of death and cost of the funeral services. Homesteaders then issues a bank draft payable to the provider of the funeral services, according to the indictment.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a civil complaint in Monroe Circuit Court against McGuire and Broyle-McGuire Funeral Home in 2014, alleging the home had violated West Virginia’s Pre-need Act and Consumer Protection Act by making eight fraudulent death claims.

The fraudulent claims were discovered in a March 2013 audit of the funeral home, and totaled in $60,512.36. The funds were deposited into the funeral home’s operation account, according to the complaint.

Affidavits were attached to Morrisey’s complaint from two clients of the funeral home that stated they had purchased pre-need funeral insurance, but did not know the location of their pre-need funeral money.

One customer said they had paid more than $8,000 to the funeral home.

Reach Kayla Asbury at kayla.asbury@wvgazettemail.com, call 304-348-3051 or follow @kasbury_ on Twitter.

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