LARA Completes Perry Funeral Home Investigation, Seeks License Revocation

Violations include storing remains in a disrespectful and improper manner, possessing remains without authorization, and filing false death certificates

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-335-LARA (5272)
Email: mediainfo@michigan.gov

February 15, 2019 - The Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has completed its administrative investigation into Perry Funeral Home in Detroit and the home’s designated manager Gary Deak stemming from its inspection and shutdown of the facility on October 19, 2018. Based on multiple violations of Michigan’s Occupational Code and the other state laws, LARA is seeking to revoke the home’s and Deak’s mortuary science licenses.

In October, LARA summarily suspended these licenses after regulators found violations resulting in an imminent threat to public safety. LARA’s completion of its administrative investigation has resulted in a Formal Complaint against Perry and Deak.

“Our investigation found numerous acts of gross negligence, incompetence, fraud and deceit in the practice of mortuary science,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “We will continue to enforce state laws to protect our residents from bad actors who deceive the public and also tarnish the funeral home industry as a whole.”  

Violations against Perry include:

  • Of the 63 infant and fetal remains found on their premises that day, possessing 54 of those remains without having express authorization to do so by a relative of the deceased or a person entitled to custody.
  • 39 of the remains arrived at the funeral home more than 180 days and seven of the remains arrived at the facility more than 60 days before the October 19, 2018 inspection, in violation of the Michigan Penal Code.
  • Representing on 42 death certificates that it filed with the Dept. of Health and Human Services that the body was buried at Knollwood Cemetery in Canton, or stored at Gethsemane Cemetery in Detroit, when Perry knew that the bodies were all stored in cardboard boxes or a freezer in the basement of its facility in Detroit.
  • Failing to certify and file death certificates for the dead bodies of the fetuses and infants for whom they assumed custody with the appropriate governmental authority within 72 hours of death. Death certificates were not filed for over a year, and in some cases over three years.
  • Storing the bodies of deceased infant and fetal remains in a disrespectful and callous manner in the basement of its facility.
  • Using a casket that had previously been used in connection with the burial or other disposition of a dead human body.
  • Obtaining State Emergency Relief (SER) benefits for the purpose of supervising the final disposition of at least three deceased infants and fetuses and failing to achieve their final disposition.
  • Making a charge for services in connection with the disposal of deceased infant or fetal remains that it received from a hospital where the hospital did not comply state law by first inquiring as to the desires of the person with authority over the disposal of the remains under the Estates and Protected Individual’s Code.
  • A lack of good moral character.
  • Gross negligence and incompetence in the practice of mortuary science.
  • Practicing fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in the practice of mortuary science.

LARA will use this Formal Complaint and its findings to seek license revocations. In response to the Formal Complaint, each respondent has the opportunity to participate in a compliance conference with the Department to either demonstrate compliance with the law or voluntarily engage in settlement negotiations. If no response is received to the Formal Complaint, or if the respondents request to proceed directly to an administrative hearing, one will be scheduled.

With respect to the respondents’ mortuary science licenses, the Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science determines the appropriate penalties upon review of a Hearing Report finding violations of the administrative law. LARA’s goal in taking the present actions is to ensure that this home and individual are never licensed in the funeral home industry again.

LARA is a regulatory agency with no criminal enforcement powers, but may refer a regulatory case to law enforcement for possible criminal considerations. LARA has shared the results of its regulatory investigation into Perry with the Detroit Police Department and the Michigan State Police.

Members of the public who have questions or concerns regarding the operation of Michigan’s funeral homes should contact LARA at 517-241-7000, or by email at funeralhomes@michigan.gov.

More information on LARA’s regulation of Michigan funeral homes can be found here.

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