A father and son team from the St. Louis, Missouri, area is facing criminal charges in connection with alleged felonies associated with a prepaid funeral scam. The pair, accused of taking as much as $600 million, have pleaded guilty to fraud and other federal charges in the case.

Authorities report the men, aged 46 and 67, were conducting a Ponzi-like scheme through their prepaid funeral service system. The father had purchased the company, National Prearranged Services Inc., in 1979. For more than 15 years, the pair had allegedly taken money from the corporation to use for personal purchases, breaking promises to both clients and state regulators along the way.

The company reportedly sold pre-paid funeral contracts, allowing clients to purchase their funeral arrangements in advance rather than simply setting aside the money. These funds were supposed to be held in trust or insurance accounts, but it appears the two men withdrew millions from the firm's accounts. In addition, loans were taken out that used the customers' funds as collateral. Finally, the men are accused of lying to regulators about the practices within their business.

Among other violations, prosecutors allege the men encouraged their employees to cover up the financial misdeeds. In one example, the men directed an employee to make it look like a woman was paying monthly, when in fact she had sent in a lump-sum payment of some $10,000. In addition, loans on accounts were shuffled between states in order to hide the fact the policies were being mishandled. In 2008, the company was forced to shut down because of continued complaints from both government officials and clients. The company was then liquidated in Texas late that year.

In this case, the pair could use the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney. These professionals could help guide the men through their decision to plead guilty to the charges, effectively negotiating for lower penalties from prosecutors. An experienced attorney is a valuable ally in the fight against criminal charges.

Source:  www.stltoday.com, "Father, son plead guilty in St. Louis prepaid funeral scam case" Robert Patrick, Jul. 04, 2013