ELKINS - The owner of R.E. Runner Funeral Home in Elkins has been ordered to repay nearly $35,000 she took as pre-payment for funerals.

Cheryl Runner Kittle was ordered by Randolph Circuit Judge John L. Henning last week to reimburse her clients, and the judge granted the state Attorney General's request to have her permanently barred from selling pre-need funeral contracts.

Also, as part of Henning's judgment against Kittle, the judge agreed to file a penalty to prevent Kittle from filing for bankruptcy protection.

According to media reports, the Attorney General's office originally thought Kittle has lost almost $20,000 from pre-need contracts, but additional victims came forward and the amount was increased to $34,699.

Attorney Richard Shryock told The Associated Press that the funeral home has more than $700,000 in debts. Shryock was named conservator for the funeral home.

He also said he is in the process of transferring 16 more pre-need contracts to other funeral homes.

The suit against Kittle was filed by the Attorney General's office in January after an audit was conducted in December. This is the second time the funeral home has been named in a suit.

In 2004 Attorney General Darrell McGraw sued Kittle, claiming the funeral home refused to abide by state rules regulating pre-need accounts. The new lawsuit seeks judgment against Kittle for violating the 2004 order.

The funeral home is being managed by another director and is still conducting funerals.

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