McGraw

POINT PLEASANT -- For its repeated mishandling of pre-need funeral contracts, a Mason County funeral home has forever lost the ability to sell them, and is out almost $200,000.

The state Attorney General's Office on May 4 reached a settlement in a civil suit it filed against Foglesong-Tucker Funeral Home in Mason for violations of state law regarding the sale of pre-need funeral agreements. Foglesong-Tucker agreed to never sale pre-need funerals in West Virginia, and pay the AG's Office a civil penalty of $175,000.

According to the settlement, the bulk of the penalty, $140,000, was to be paid by June 4 with the remainder paid in monthly installments of $1,000 on the 15th of each month to the AG's Consumer Protection Division. Also, Foglesong-Tucker was given until May 14 to provide the Division a list of pre-need agreements it signed since beginning its operation as a funeral home, and had five days to comply with any request by the Division to transfer any pre-need contract to a financial institution or to another funeral home.

Furthermore, Foglesong-Tucker, and its officers Jerry Tucker and Ray Allen Tucker Jr., were ordered to provide the Division a full list of their assets. The order stipulated that they were to notify the Division if their income ever increased, and turn over title and possession of any asset over $500 within 10 days of acquiring it.

A list of assets provided by Foglesong-Tucker attached to the order showed its fair market value estimated at $250,000, $75,000 less than the fine it was ordered to pay.

The settlement came three months after the AG first filed suit in Mason Circuit Court. Records show four days after it was filed, Judge David W. Nibert granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Foglesong-Tucker from "selling, advertising, marketing or soliciting" pre-need funeral agreements until the case was resolved.

Pre-need funeral agreements allow a person to purchase funeral services for oneself or someone else in a lump-sum or installment payments in advance of death. Records show Foglesong-Tucker obtained the necessary license to sell them in 2002.

In its suit, the AG alleged Foglesong-Tucker on and off for the last four years had not only at times sold funeral services without a license, but also failed to account for funds used to purchase those services. An audit the Division conducted on Sept. 3 found Foglesong-Tucker sold nine pre-need contracts without submitting the corresponding report including two when its license had lapsed.

Also, the Division found Foglesong-Tucker could not account for funds belonging to 18 customers. The Division's investigation found that two of those customers paid a total of $13,850.86 to Foglesong-Tucker for a pre-need funeral, but could not show were deposits were made under the customers' names at the bank.

Mason Circuit Court, case number 10-C-9

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