Mason funeral home found in contempt for failing to pay AG in pre-need settlement

POINT PLEASANT -– The owners of a Mason County funeral remain under close supervision after being found in contempt for failing to pay restitution to the state Attorney General's Office to settle a consumer protection suit.

Following a hearing July 1, Judge David W. Nibert found Jerry W. Tucker and Ray Allen Tucker Sr., owners of Foglesong-Tucker Funeral Home in Mason, in contempt for missing the deadline in making the first payment to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. On May 4, the Tuckers agreed to pay the Division $175,000 to settle a pre-need suit it brought against them and the funeral home in January, with $140,000 due by June 3, and the remainder paid in monthly installments of $1,000 on the 15th of each month.

The settlement also called for Foglesong-Tucker to provide the Division by May 14 a list of all pre-need agreements it signed since beginning its operation as a funeral home, and the Tuckers not only providing the Division a full list of their assets, but also turning over title to the Division within 10 days any asset over $500. When the Tuckers missed the June 3 deadline, Assistant Attorney General Christopher Hedges petitioned the court the next day to find them in contempt.

In his petition, Hedges noted the Tuckers had the ability to make the payment as Jerry Tucker won $100,000 betting at the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Also, he said that while the Tuckers did submit a list of all pre-need contracts it ever signed, the list was incomplete.

Should they be found in contempt, Hedges asked that the Tuckers be placed in jail until they make the $140,000 payment, provide a complete list of all pre-need contracts and "[p]rovide assurance acceptable to this Court that they will not further violate the terms of the Court's Order dated May 4, 2010."

In his order, Nibert noted the Tuckers made partial payments totaling $73,500 toward the $140,000. The partial payments, he noted, was an apparent good faith effort the Tuckers made to satisfy the agreement while in the process of selling the funeral home.

Since a sale of the funeral home is imminent, Nibert ordered that the Tuckers take $101,500 from the proceeds and turn it over the Mason Circuit Clerk's Office. The Clerk would then hold the funds in escrow to pay the balance of the settlement.

Nibert gave the Tuckers until Aug. 6 to complete the sale or face an additional $10,000 penalty. In the meantime, Nibert ordered the Tuckers to pay an additional $25,773.87 penalty plus 10 percent interest and provide the Division "a complete accounting of all preneed payment transactions" by the end of the business day on July 12.

If the list did not meet Hedges' satisfaction, then Nibert said he would order Jerry Tucker arrested and taken to jail.

However, in a letter dated the next day, Hedges said, at least for moment, it was not necessary to incarcerate Tucker as he provided the Division lists of customers making deposits on pre-need contracts including the names of eight customers whose funds were misappropriated. After a thorough review of the lists, which he said "are not perfect," Hedges informed Nibert the Division "may need another hearing in the near future to cover any remaining details on contempt and determine the status of the funeral home's sale."

As of press time, no new filings were made.

Mason Circuit Court case number 10-C-9

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