Suffern Funeral Home Director Faked Customer’s Death, Stole Thousands From Prepaid Burial Account

 

Leonard Scarr, former owner and operator of Scarr Funeral Home in Suffern, has pled guilty to two charges of grand larceny and one count of forgery, following an investigation conducted by the Ramapo Police Department. The Rockland County District Attorney’s Office has now identified 90 victims of Scarr’s scams, who have suffered a combined loss of $531,017.

The  54, year old resident of Upper Saddle River, NJ, appeared before Hon. Larry J Schwartz on July 27, 2021, to enter his plea of guilty. In doing so, Scarr admitted to stealing in excess of $3,000 from two victims.

Scarr’s first confirmed victim was a customer who contracted with him to establish a prepaid burial account. Scarr deposited the victim’s money into an interest bearing account, which the funeral home director could only access upon the death of the victim account holder. In order to obtain the funds, Scarr instead forged a death certificate in the victim’s name, presented the forged death certificate to representatives of the bank where the burial escrow account was held, withdrew the funds from the account, and used them for various personal expenses. At the time of the withdrawal and as of today, the account holder was still alive.

Scarr’s second act of grand larceny was less creative. His second confirmed victim had also contracted with the director to establish a prepaid burial account. Instead of establishing that account, Scarr simply pocketed the money.

In pleading guilty to scheme to defraud, Scarr admitted to “knowingly and willfully failing to deposit and keep such monies on deposit received for in excess of ten customer’s burial accounts” according to the D.A.’s office.

Last fall, in an effort to ensure that all the victims will be fully reimbursed, the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, filed a civil forfeiture action in the Rockland County Supreme Court, which allowed the county to seize Leonard Scarr’s property and proceeds from the sale of the Scarr Funeral Home. When the sale of the property closed last month, the sum of $540,000.00 (to be paid at $9,000 per month for the next five years) was set aside to pay back the victims of Scarr’s theft.

“Preparing to lay to rest a family member or friend is one of the hardest and most stressful times in a person’s life. With restitution being paid to the victims, this sentence is fair and brings justice to all involved parties. I would like to thank the Town of Ramapo Police Department Detectives and the Investigators from the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office for their hard work in investigating this case.” said District Attorney Tom Walsh.

In exchange for Scarr’s pleas of guilty, Judge Schwartz promised to sentence Scarr to an indeterminate term of two to six years in state prison with full restitution in the amount of $531,071.37, as recommended by the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office.