SUFFERN – Rockland prosecutors have obtained a court order to ensure money will remain available from the sale of Scarr Funeral Home for those clients who were allegedly ripped off by the embattled owner.
Leonard Scarr is charged in a nine-count felony indictment with stealing prepaid funeral money from three people. He is accused of forging death certificates and illegally withdrawing the money from a bank.
INVESTIGATION: Authorities probing 12 more complaints involving Suffern funeral home owner
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REPAYMENT: Suffern funeral home boss will repay clients, seek a plea deal
ARREST: Suffern funeral home boss Leonard Scarr charged with stealing about $21K from three clients
Ramapo police estimated $21,000 was stolen from the three families. Complaints brought by another 12 people are being investigated by the detective with the police and Rockland District Attorney’s Office.
State Supreme Court Judge Robert Berliner signed a temporary restraining order freezing Scarr’s bank accounts and blocked the sale of Scarr Funeral Home until further order of the court, the District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday in a news release.
The objective of the civil forfeiture order is to secure assets from the sale of the funeral home and associated properties of the owners, Scarr and his wife, Laura, according to the release.
“As we continue to investigate the financial issues surrounding Scarr Funeral Home, I felt that my office needed to protect the victims to ensure there are funds remaining from the sale of that property,” District Attorney Thomas Walsh said in the release.
With the dozen new complaints, the estimated thefts could top $150,000, according to court papers.
Funeral home for sale
Scarr, of Warwick in Orange County, has pleaded not guilty and has been released without bail. His attorney, Gerard Damiani of New City, confirmed the business is being sold and is aware of the action taken by prosecutors.
Damiani has said Scarr ran into financial difficulties and would repay the clients. Damiani had hoped the restitution offer would forgo a grand jury indictment and lead to a plea without a prison sentence.
Walsh has said in a previous statement that his office “will not stand idly by and let residents of our county be victims of fraud and let the perpetrator off with a slap of the wrist.”
A Rockland grand jury indicted Scarr weeks ago on three felony counts each of grand larceny, forgery and criminal possession of a forged instrument. The grand larceny and forgery charges carry a maximum of seven years in prison, upon conviction. A judge could sentence him to anywhere from probation to the maximum years.
Between July and October 2019, Scarr is accused of forging death certificates for three clients with whom he had contracted to set up designated pre-paid burial escrow accounts.
As trustee for the bank accounts, Scarr could only receive money after the account holder had died. But he is accused of presenting the forged death certificates to representatives of Key Bank in Airmont and withdrawing the funds, each of which exceeded $6,000, according to authorities.
Scarr’s Aug. 17 arrest by Ramapo police followed a complaint in March from a client whose bank account was emptied, police said. Investigators found two other victims, and the Rockland District Attorney’s Office seized records from the downtown Suffern funeral home.
Scarr is a third-generation owner, taking over after the death of his father, Leonard A. Scarr, who served two terms as Suffern’s mayor from 1985 to 1989.
The funeral home has been a fixture in the western Ramapo village since 1920.
Were you a victim?
- Potential victims and families who had not yet received their loved ones’ cremated remains from Scarr Funeral home can contact the Rockland County District Attorney’s investigators at 845-731-4100 or the Ramapo Police Department at 845-357-2400 or submit an anonymous tip by downloading the RocklandCO DA Tip 411 app.
- They also can text the keyword ROCKLANDCODA to 847411, type in your tip information, and hit send.
Steve Lieberman covers government, breaking news, courts, police and investigations. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @lohudlegal. Read more articles and bio. Our local coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Judge freezes sale of Scarr Funeral Home and owners’ assets to ensure victims get repaid: DA