Funeral director charged with theft from pre-need accounts
Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado
Grand County’s Funeral Director Darin Foran, owner of Foran-Schoenfeld Mortuary, has been charged with 11 counts of class 3 felony theft and four misdemeanor thefts for a total of more than $42,000 in cash.
A police investigation launched last August culminated Jan. 1 when Foran was arrested. He was released upon making $20,000 bond.
Foran faces charges of withdrawing sums of money from around $1,000 up to $8,500 from pre-need accounts ” bank accounts opened in the name of individuals to save for future funeral expenses.
County Investigator Kim Wilkin alleges in her report that Foran withdrew funds, closed accounts without clients’ consent or knowledge and spent the money.
“The victims of these thefts were the elderly,” said Grand County Undersheriff Walt Eldridge. “Some can be considered our most vulnerable citizens.”
From a separate investigation, Foran is charged with wrongly billing clients for transports of deceased individuals from their homes to the county’s only funeral home.
The police report states that Coroner Brenda Bock said she transported the bodies to the mortuary as a courtesy.
“Darin Foran did not provide this service and is not entitled to the transport fee,” the report reads. Foran billed around $400 for each trip.
Reached on Friday, Foran consented to an interview with the Sky-Hi Daily News, but declined to comment on details of the case, deferring questions to his attorneys.
His Attorney Michael Meyrick said the victim’s pre-need accounts are safe and sound.
“No money has been stolen by Mr. Foran in any way,” he said. “The money is safe. It’s where it’s supposed to be. If any particular individual wants any money back, they can have it back.”
Meyrick said he blames a faulty investigation.
“I think this case has been poorly investigated. If they investigated the case, they’d know that the money has not been stolen,” he said.
“We have confidence in the way the investigation was conducted,” Eldridge said. He called the investigation “thorough” and said it was reviewed by the District Attorney’s office.
“Since Mr. Foran has been arrested, we have received additional information and are investigating additional complaints,” he said.
Asked about victims’ narratives in the police report in which some claimed they asked for funds to be transferred to another funeral home only to find out later they were not transferred, or survivors who were told a deceased loved one withdrew funds prior to his or her death when really an account was said to have been closed by Foran, “The police report is wrong,” Meyrick said. “I don’t think any particular victim has ever sought a return of any money and it’s simply not true that he’s stolen any funds.”
Meyrick declined to comment on particulars of the case, saying he looks forward to addressing it in court.
“I’m confident (Foran) won’t be convicted,” he said.
Each felony count could mean prison time of four to eight years if convicted with an added three months to a year for each misdemeanor.
Foran worked in the mortuary field nine years in a funeral-home position in
Albuquerque, N.M. before to moving to Grand County. Foran purchased Schoenfeld Mortuary from long-standing Grand County funeral director Dave Schoenfeld in November 2006.
Foran’s parents Carolyn and Robert Foran of Nebraska are listed as principle owners of the business in the investigator’s report, which lists Carolyn as having “benefited financially” from withdrawals of pre-need accounts. Foran denied that his parents own 80 percent of the business, as stated in the report.
Foran is scheduled to reappear in court for advisement on Feb. 10.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail email@example.com.
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