Friday, October 25, 2002

Hawaii County

Mortuary operators
to surrender to cops

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> Three operators of a Big Island mortuary were expected to turn themselves in to police today on charges that they stole about $100,000 from customers, their attorney said.

Memorial Mortuary manager Robert Diego; his wife, Momi, owner of the mortuary; and their daughter Bobbi Jean, an employee, were indicted Wednesday on 40 counts of theft dealing with money allegedly taken from customers who bought "pre-need" funeral plans.

Bail was set at $2,000 for each of the three, and they are prepared to post it, attorney Brenda Carreira said yesterday.

"My clients will cooperate fully," she said.

Carreira had not seen the indictment against them and could not comment on it.

The thefts consisted of failing to deposit money taken for services, or property of equal value, in a trust fund, the indictment says. That took place between 1989 and the present, says a count charging theft in the first degree.

Following that are 39 instances of thefts in the second degree from individuals, all since 1994, giving the exact amount paid in most cases, or referring to payments exceeding $300 in the remainder of the cases. Amounts ranged from $1,000 to $7,113.60.

The payments total $99,110.61, which does not include unspecified payments exceeding $300.

A warning of the charges came in April when Deputy Attorney General Christopher Young said in a court hearing that money was missing from a trust fund. This week's indictment was obtained by Deputy Attorney General Rick Damerville.

Separately, the state Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs earlier filed civil charges against the mortuary for allegedly selling pre-need plans without a license for more than two decades. The state seeks $200,000 in fines.

County of Hawaii

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