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Iowa funeral home director sentenced for mishandling prepaid money

A mortician who misused tens of 1000’s of {dollars} meant as advance fee for funerals will keep away from jail after pleading responsible.

As the proprietor of the Joyce Funeral Home in Emmetsburg, Andrew Joyce offered prepaid funeral plans and was required by state regulation to make use of that money to buy funeral insurance coverage or in any other case make investments it to make sure it was accessible when the client died.

Instead, state investigators discovered that Joyce “used the funds for his personal gain and to operate the funeral chapel,” in response to a felony grievance. And when the enterprise went out of enterprise in 2019, the money for future funerals was gone.

For subscribers:Iowa man angered by funeral home director’s ‘betrayal’ accused of stealing money paid for couple’s funeral upfront

Joyce was charged with ongoing felony conduct, promoting funeral providers with no allow, and two counts of theft in a interval from 2012 to 2019. In September, he pleaded responsible to counts of ongoing felony conduct and first-degree theft. And on November 10, he acquired a suspended sentence and was sentenced to 2 years’ probation as an alternative of 10 years in jail.

Although his lawyer didn’t reply to a message in search of remark, Joyce wrote to the court docket that he had discovered his lesson.

“Mr. Joyce has denounced his wrongful conduct and accepted responsibility for his actions, showing significant rehabilitation,” wrote lawyer Matthew Sease.

According to the memo, Joyce gave up his funeral license, has no plans to return to the funeral trade, and now runs a building firm he began in 2019.

Victims keep in mind the misplaced sense of economic safety

For a number of the households who had pre-purchased funeral providers from Joyce, the invention that he had misplaced the money got here on the worst doable time.

Dave and Judy Nixon of Emmetsburg paid about $20,000 upfront for funerals, a gravestone, and different bills. Learning their funding had been misplaced in late 2019 felt like a “betrayal,” Dave Nixon stated, and so they had been all too fast to confront the outcomes when Judy was hospitalized months later and within the early weeks of COVID -19 died pandemic.

Nixon spoke on the sentencing listening to in regards to the painful lack of safety the couple felt, and instructed the Des Moines Register afterwards that he was not impressed with the eye Joyce’s lawyer drew to his involvement and character in the neighborhood.

“By the end of the day, you’d have thought Andy would try for some kind of community award because he’s such a nice guy,” Nixon stated. “…Not once did he say, ‘Dave, I’m sorry for your loss.'”

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Nonetheless, Nixon stated he was glad with the deferred sentence given to Joyce.

“I think it was the right sentence that everything was open to the public, they all can determine what kind of citizen he is,” Nixon stated.

The insurance coverage division strives to make clients a complete

At least a few of those that prepaid for Joyce Funeral Home’s service will obtain a refund. The Iowa Insurance Division introduced in September that it was accepting claims from clients who did not obtain their prepaid funerals. The repayments will likely be comprised of funds the division has recovered since a court docket gave it management of the bankrupt funeral home’s property in 2020.

In court docket filings, Sease assured the choose that every one buyer funds will likely be absolutely recovered.

“According to attorney representing the insurance commissioner, the receiver has liquid assets in excess of $160,000 to meet claims,” ​​he wrote. “The claims process was completed on November 7, 2022 and according to the insurance commissioner, the amount of money in receivership will be able to cover all claims with leftover money.”

Nixon stated he is filed a declare however hasn’t seen any money but.

“I’m cynical about it,” he stated of the method. “I don’t expect to see much.”

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William Morris covers courts for the Des Moines Register. He may be contacted at [email protected], 715-573-8166 or on Twitter at @DMRMorris.

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