DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science has revoked the license of a Detroit funeral home and cremation service after a hearing found multiple violations of state regulations.
Along with revoking the license of Compassion Funeral Home and Cremation Service, the board, which is part of Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, also revoked the license of the facility's manager John N. Olszewski, Jr. Compassion was also ordered to pay a $110,000 administrative fine. Olszewski was ordered to pay a $170,000 administrative fine.
LARA opened an investigation after receiving a complaint from a family who did not receive the cremated remains of a deceased relative, as well as a complaint from a crematory that says they received several bounced checks.
According to the state, the investigation, which included inspections of the facility in September and October 2019, led to a formal hearing in June 2022, where it was found:
- Although Olszewski was the establishment’s designated manager, he was rarely present at the facility and allowed an unsupervised individual who held an expired mortuary science resident trainee license, Gerald John Ruffin, Jr., to manage the funeral establishment’s day-to-day activities.
- Olszewski and the funeral establishment aided and abetted another unlicensed establishment and individual to oversee the funeral services and final disposition of a dead human body.
- Olszewski permitted an agent of the funeral establishment to transport five dead human bodies to a crematory, Tri-County Cremation Services, L.L.C., without burial transit permits and without first obtaining authorization from the next of kin of the deceased to oversee their final dispositions, resulting in months-long delays in achieving final disposition.
- Olszewski permitted for cremation services to be paid with $7,000 in bounced checks, constituting fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in the practice of mortuary science.
- Olszewski unknowingly signed a death certificate indicating that a human body was buried at a cemetery in Detroit when that body was awaiting cremation at a crematory facility. The funeral establishment transported the body to Tri-County Cremation Services, L.L.C. in 2019, and the same body remained there until the spring of 2021 when LARA discovered it during an investigation of the crematory facility [lnks.gd]. The body was still awaiting cremation due to a lack of authorization for final disposition.
- Olszewski permitted the establishment’s embalming room to be used as a storage area and to fall into such a state of disarray, filth, and disrepair that it was not fully equipped to embalm bodies. The embalming machines were not operational at all during a second inspection of the facility and there was a strong, foul odor in the air.
- Olszewski’s and the funeral establishment’s conduct demonstrated incompetence and gross negligence in the practice of mortuary science.
“Licensed mortuary scientists are required to obtain authorization for final disposition from the next-of-kin and a burial transit permit before transporting dead human bodies to cemeteries or crematories and must take care in completing and electronically signing death certificates,” said LARA’s Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau Director Linda Clegg in a news release. “Otherwise, death certificates are rendered unreliable, and it makes it impossible to obtain the approval of a county medical examiner to cremate a body in a timely manner. It is imperative that a fully licensed mortuary scientist ensures that this occurs and is physically present at the funeral establishment to supervise the individual resident trainee he or she is sponsoring at all times.”
The state says members of the public who have questions or concerns regarding the operation of Michigan’s funeral homes should contact LARA at 517-241-7000, or by email at email@example.com. More information on LARA’s regulation of Michigan funeral homes can be found at www.mi.gov/mortuaryscience.