Madison funeral home accuses former president of embezzling

By Chris Dickerson and Harmon Marks | Mar 1, 2011

MADISON -- A funeral home in Huntington has accused its president of embezzlement.

SFH Inc. was incorporated in March 2005 after being known as Stevens Funeral Home under Thomas R. Stevens.

The complaint, filed Jan. 24 in Boone Circuit Court, alleges "... at some point in time after the creation of SFH Inc., Defendant, began embezzling monies, by depositing checks payable to SFC Inc., and/or Stevens Funeral Home into his personal checking accounts."

The suit says United Bank and BB&T breached fiduciary duty, making them "liable for conversion in the amount of the instruments deposited ..." SFH cites complex accounting as the only way to determine amounts owed the company and demands an independent audit.

Spelling out six causes of action, SFH alleges fraud and negligence in making its case for jury judgments of general and special damages, including value of instruments converted; punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees and costs and such other relief entitled under the Common Law.

Last year, West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced a settlement with SFH Inc., which is based in Madison. McGraw's office said Stevens admitted to misappropriating more than $180,000 paid in advance by consumers for funeral services.

Stevens vacated the business in March 2010. Soon, consumers began contacting McGraw's office because they feared that their preneed funeral contracts would not be honored.

The funeral home later was sold, and Stevens agreed to a permanent injunction against handling preneed contracts if he ever returns to the funeral industry. Stevens' former business partners have also cooperated and willingly agreed to pay any additional claims which may arise after the settlement is entered.

The new suit was filed by attorney J. Patrick L. Stephens. It has been assigned to Circuit Judge William S. Thompson.

Boone Circuit Court case number: 11-C-15

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