The former owner of a Hudson Valley funeral home has pleaded guilty to two counts of grand larceny and other crimes in connection with the theft of more than $531,000 from some 90 clients.
Rockland County District Attorney Tom Walsh announced the plea by Leonard Scarr, who owned Scarr Funeral Home in Suffern, on Wednesday, July 28.
Scarr, the son of a former Suffern mayor Leonard A. Scarr, and a third-generation funeral home owner, admitted to defrauding just two of the 90 victims and stealing more than $3,000 under a plea agreement, said the DA's Office.
He was indicted following an investigation by the Ramapo Police Department and the Rockland County District Attorney's Office identified 90 victims with a loss of $531,017.
Scarr, age 54, of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, stole the funds by depositing the victim’s money into an interest-bearing account in which he could only access upon the death of the victim account holder.
To obtain the funds, Scarr instead forged a death certificate in the victim’s name, presented the forged death certificate to representatives of the bank where the burial escrow account was held, withdrew the funds from the account, and used them for various personal expenses without any permission or authority, the DA's Office said.
At the time of the withdrawal, the account holder was and is still alive.
Regarding the second victim, Scarr also contracted with her to set up a prepaid burial account, but simply never deposited the victim’s money into a mandated interest-bearing account.
Instead, Scarr used the victim’s funds for various personal expenses without any permission or authority.
Last fall, to ensure that all the victims will be fully reimbursed, the District Attorney's Office filed a civil action seeking forfeiture from Scarr’s property and proceeds from the sale of the Scarr Funeral Home.
When the sale of the property closed last month, the sum of $540,000.00 (to be paid at $9,000 per month for the next five years) was set aside to pay back the victims of Scarr’s theft, Walsh said.
In exchange for Scarr’s pleas of guilty, Judge Schwartz agreed to sentence Scarr to a term of two to six years in state prison with full restitution in the amount of $531,071.37, as recommended by the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office.
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