Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-335-LARA (5272)
April 23, 2020 - The Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and the Office of the Attorney General took enforcement action via Stipulation and Final Order against Royal Funeral Home, Inc. (Royal) in Battle Creek and its president and manager – Richard L. Royal – for multiple violations of the Prepaid Funeral and Cemetery Sales Act (Prepaid Act) and related violations of the Occupational Code, including fraud, deceit, or dishonesty and incompetence in the practice of mortuary science. LARA revoked Royal’s – and its manager’s – mortuary science licenses, effective April 16, 2020.
This followed previous action, taken last December, revoking Royal’s Prepaid Act registration based on the same conduct. Despite an extension of the time frame originally contemplated in that Stipulation and Final Order, Royal failed to comply with its provision ordering payment of restitution to prepaid contract holders. Specifically, to date, Royal failed to pay approximately $78,000 towards the more than $194,000 in ordered restitution. As a result, the originally-imposed fines of $5,000 in each disciplinary action were increased to $25,000, and applications for relicensure, or reinstatement will be denied.
“LARA remains focused on protecting the public by holding licensed professionals accountable for their actions,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “We appreciate the work Attorney General Nessel and her team does to protect Michigan citizens from those who violate the law, particularly in a time when honesty and professionalism of funeral directors is required more than ever.”
“Failing to properly manage the funds of customers who have prepaid for their funeral services is a violation of Michigan law,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “People are paying for the peace of mind and security that come with these contracts and the promise that their wishes will be fulfilled when they pass on. They should not be subjected to the grief and anxiety that accompanies deceitful or incompetent business practices. I appreciate LARA’s efforts and I am grateful we could work together to resolve this matter for the people of Michigan.”
A person who converts funds paid pursuant to a prepaid contract to his or her own use or benefit, other than as authorized by the Prepaid Act, or who fails to escrow or trust funds according to the Prepaid Act is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of $5,000 or imprisonment of not more than five (5) years, or both, for each violation. A person who violates any other provision of the Prepaid Act is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than one (1) year, or both, for each violation. Referrals were made to appropriate criminal law enforcement agencies.
Members of the public who have questions or concerns regarding the operation of Michigan’s funeral homes should contact LARA at 517-335-5237, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on LARA’s regulation of Michigan funeral homes can be found here.