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Published: Wednesday, 12/15/2010

State seeks more clients in mortuary investigation

FINDLAY -- Investigators from the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors have met with more than 100 customers of the former Routson Funeral Home here to have their prepaid funeral accounts reassigned to other operating funeral homes.

None of the more than $2 million in prepaid accounts was unaccounted for when investigators closed down the Routson Funeral Home on June 14, board spokesman Jennifer Baugess said. However, another 50 to 75 clients with assets in Routson's prepaid accounts still must be found after investigators spent three days last week at Findlay-area senior centers.

"We are making another attempt to contact consumers," Ms. Baugess said. A court-appointed receiver is overseeing the process.

The Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors immediately suspended the licenses of Gregory Routson and his Routson Funeral Chapel on Osborn Avenue in June, citing allegations that he allowed unlicensed staff to meet with families to sell and arrange funeral services, that he was "habitually intoxicated, or addicted to the use of morphine, cocaine, or other habit-forming or illegal drugs," that he kept refuse and soiled linens in a public area, that he failed to keep the preparation room and floor clean, failed to sterilize embalming instruments, failed to cover refuse containers, and failed "to treat at least one body with proper care and dignity by partially embalming and leaving the body unrefrigerated for a period of 13 days."

The allegations also accused Mr. Routson of threatening or harassing employees, being in the funeral home "naked or partially clothed" during business hours in a public area, putting on the jacket of a deceased man in front of his family, and misappropriating memorial contributions.

"The bottom line is to protect the consumer, and the state board has taken the steps necessary to do that," said Terry Reardon, president of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association, which supported the enforcement action.

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