CHERAW, SC A funeral home director has been indicted on 106 counts of violating the state’s preneed funeral contracts law and breach of trust with fraudulent intent.
Hubert Craig Norton, the former of owner of Norton Funeral Home, was indicted Nov. 26 by a Chesterfield County grand jury. The case was investigated by the Cheraw Police Department and the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs. It is the first case of its kind in South Carolina, said Carrie Grube-Lybarker, executive director of the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs
Norton is accused of selling preneed funeral contracts without a license, and he allegedly failed to put the money in a trust account. The Cheraw Police Department began receiving complaints about the burial contracts after Norton’s funeral home closed in August 2011, Grube-Lybarker said.
Norton allegedly sold 33 of the preneed contracts with 19 of those customers paying cash. The remaining customers bought insurance policies. The total amount involved in the preneed contract sales was $168,000, Grube-Lybarker said.
Since the funeral home closed, Consumer Affairs has paid $10,000 to refund money four families who had a loved one die while Norton was under investigation, Grube-Lybarker said. The department expects to pay up to $30,000 in lost reimbursements for the contract.
Under state law, funeral home directors must have a license to sell the preneed contracts, and they must put the money in a trust account. If a funeral home closes, the law allows customers to transfer their contracts to another funeral home. The funeral home that originated the contract may keep a small administrative fee, Grube-Lybarker said.