05/22/13 — Funeral home forced to close

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Funeral home forced to close

By John Joyce
Published in News on May 22, 2013 1:46 PM

A funeral home cited for alleged misuse of pre-need funeral planning funds has been ordered to close its doors.

The N.C. Board of Funeral Services ordered E.M. Matthews Funeral Home and Cremation Inc. to complete all scheduled funerals through May 16 and to cease operations.

The business had reorganized under a different set of officers removing the name of then funeral director Eric Matthews from the management listing. Matthews was stripped of his licenses by the state in early May when questions were raised about his use of pre-need service contract funds.

The remaining manager resigned.

"They are completely shut down now because there was nobody with a license left to run the business, N.C. Board of Funeral Services Director Peter Burke said.

The board investigated a series of violations allegedly committed by Matthews, including selling pre-need service contracts without a license.

The company also failed to deposit money accepted from customers into insurance accounts within a five-day period and did not file the contracts with the state board within the required 10 days.

"If you want to practice funeral services in the state of North Carolina, you need to have a license," Burke said.

That includes selling pre-need contracts -- which allow customers to decide on their own funeral plans and to prepay for them.

Matthews is accused of taking money from customers and misappropriating the funds.

He also was investigated by the N.C. Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division, which found sufficient evidence to charge him with embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretense.

Matthews was ordered by the state board to repay more than $33,000 by the end of May or face additional prosecution.

The consent order issued by the board stipulated that, if he is not convicted of any charges and no further reports of infractions are discovered by the board, he can become eligible for re-licensing in 2015.

Matthews is due in Wayne County District Court on July 22.