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Thursday, December 5, 2002



Hilo mortuary
allegations
lack evidence


Associated Press

HILO >> An investigation by the state Attorney General has found no evidence to support allegations that operators of Memorial Mortuary in Hilo buried bodies in plastic bags instead of the caskets relatives had purchased in the 1980s.

Robert and Momi Diego and their daughter, Bobbi Jean Diego, were arrested in March in connection with the casket charges. They were released without charges pending investigation.

Deputy Attorney General Rick Damerville said Tuesday the state does not have evidence to support the allegations.

Grave exhumations were unnecessary, since investigators used metal detectors and other devices, he said.

"You don't want to go out and dig up five graves and stir up emotions," Damerville said. "You want to make sure you don't victimize the victims twice."

The mortuary owners, however, still face 39 counts of theft charges. They are accused of failing to deposit money for pre-need funeral contracts into the bank.

The three pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree theft and 38 counts of second-degree theft.

The Diegos are accused of failing to deposit some $119,000 in payments from pre-need service plans into a proper trust fund.

Trial is scheduled to begin March 31 before 3rd Circuit Judge Riki Mae Amano.



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