Former funeral home director charged with embezzlement, prepaid funeral fraud
BY MANNY GAMALLO World Staff Writer
Friday, May 06, 2011
5/06/11 at 9:46 AM
SAPULPA - A former director of funeral homes in Bristow and Okemah was charged Thursday with embezzlement on allegations that he misused trust funds for prepaid burial plans, authorities said.
Ronald C. Schumacher, 61, of Bristow was charged in both Creek and Okfuskee counties. He is in the Creek County Jail, with bail set at $45,000.
Schumacher operated the Schumacher Funeral Homes in Bristow and Okemah.
In Creek County, he is charged with two felonies, embezzlement and prepaid funeral fraud, and a misdemeanor count of accepting prepaid funeral payments without a license. Authorities said his funeral director's license was suspended late last year.
Investigators claim that Schumacher misused a total of $9,513 from two prepaid plans in Creek County.
He is charged with two felony embezzlement counts in Okfuskee County on allegations that he misused a total of $4,180 from two accounts. Officials in Okfuskee County have put a hold on his release from the Creek County Jail and set their own bail at $40,000.
The case against Schumacher stems from a months-long investigation by the Oklahoma Insurance Department with assistance from officials in the office of District Attorney Max Cook, who oversees prosecutions in both Creek and Okfuskee counties.
The allegations were detailed at a press conference Thursday at the Creek County Courthouse that involved Cook; state Insurance Commissioner John Doak; Randy Brogdon, a deputy in the agency's Anti-Fraud Unit; Paul Wilkening, also of the Insurance Department; and Mark Riley, director of the Oklahoma Funeral Board.
Citing the sensitive nature of funerals, Doak said misusing trust funds set aside for burials "is one of the things you don't want to mess with" in Oklahoma.
He compared the crime with taking advantage of someone in a catastrophe or dire need.
"People want to know their money for (funeral) expenses will be" safe, he said.
Brogdon said Schumacher had complaints filed against him two years ago that also alleged mishandling of trust fund money.
That case involved 80 people and about $100,000, Brogdon said. Of that, he said, about $40,000 was missing, and Schumacher made restitution.
Riley said such embezzlement cases are rare in Oklahoma.
He thanked investigators for their work in helping to preserve the credibility of the funeral-home industry in Oklahoma and for keeping a watchful eye on this type of fraud.
Original Print Headline: Funeral home ex-director faces fraud case
Manny Gamallo 918-581-8386
Ronald C. Schumacher: He faces felony charges of embezzlement and prepaid funeral fraud in Creek and Okfuskee counties.