TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The State of Indiana has suspended a funeral home, its director, and its owner for 90 days, according to the state’s professional licensing database and a state petition for suspension.
Online records show "emergency suspension" statuses for Russell Funeral Home, Funeral Director Scott Shake, and Gregory Majors, who is the owner. Russell Funeral home is located at 419 North 21st Street in Terre Haute.
The state filed a petition for suspension at the end of January. Majors was once the licensed funeral home director for Russell. However, online records show his licensed expired in 1996. According to the suspension petition, the license carries the status “expired non-renewable.”
The petition shows there was an inspection of the facility in 2008. At that time, the inspection found Russell Funeral home was offering services with an expired license. That inspection also found the facility’s prep room was not compliant with regulations.
In July of 2009, the state filed a civil complaint against Majors alleging her violated the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by engaging in the practice of funeral services without a permit of license required by law. A judge ruled in favor of the state in June of 2010. The judgment against Majors included an amount of $15,525.
The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency suspended Funeral Director Mark Ferree. His address is in Marion County. The investigation started when the Funeral Directors Association asked about a body disappearing after Ferree picked it up.
The state says an investigation revealed Ferree's license was associated with Russell Funeral Home. At that time, the state funeral board requested Russell Funeral Home be inspected.
The suspension petition says an inspector called the facility to speak with a licensed funeral director as part of that investigation. The document says Majors identified himself was funeral director of the facility. Upon identifying herself, the inspector said Majors instructed her to speak with managing funeral home director of Russell Funeral Home.
In the suspension petition, the state says “…it appears that Respondent Majors is again practicing as a funeral practitioner without an active license.” The inspectors said Majors did not provide files needed by the state. A spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office told News 10 the lack of files disallowed an investigation into any business dealings.
The inspection also found several issues at Russell Funeral Home, according to the suspension petition, saying "...the facility was in an overall state of disrepair." Those issues included water damage, ceiling tiles that were falling in, and inadequate ventilation.
Inspectors said the rooms for funeral arrangements and prep were non-operational. Inspectors were told in lieu of body preparations on site, Director Shake took bodies to another facility he was associated with in another county.
The petition says at the time of the inspection, Majors said he would have to use tools to gain access to other areas of the building and that other areas were closed off for safety.
The licensing database shows until the suspension, the director and facility itself had active licenses.
News 10 hopes to talk with legal counsel for Shake on Thursday. This is a story News 10 will continue to follow in the coming days.
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