MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (FOX 9) - The former owners of a Maplewood, Minnesota funeral home are accused of pocketing money intended for insurance policies, leaving families in the lurch when their loved ones passed.
Seventy-year-old David Thorsell and 69-year-old Edward Vasey are now facing two counts of insurance fraud and one count of theft by swindle each.
According to the set of charges, Thorsell and Vasey came under suspicion as they sold off the business while facing financial troubles in 2017. Police say after the sale, the Department of Health received a complaint that the owners had misappropriated money from customers for preburial funds.
Investigators say they found seven customers over a twenty-year period from 1997 to 2017 had prepaid for burial costs with an insurance policy that was never obtained by the funeral home.
Officers say one victim, who passed away in 2017, paid the suspects more than $10,000 for burial costs and filled out an insurance application with her son. The application was signed by Vasey but never sent to the insurance company.
As a result, police say that when the woman passed, no insurance proceeds were available to cover burial costs. The person who ended purchasing the funeral home from Thorsell and Vasey did provide the family a discounted price but police say the family ended up paying nearly $6,000 for their loved one's funeral.
Another victim reportedly paid more than $12,000 to the funeral home in 2017 but police say her insurance policy also wasn't submitted by Thorsell or Vasey. As a result, the family ended up paying an additional $7,100 to lay her to rest in 2018.
When questioned by police, Vasey claimed he was not aware of any insurance policy that wasn't sent in and blamed Thorsell for the failure. However, Vasey admitted, as a licensed insurance agent, he got a commission for policies and would call to check if the premium had been sent.
Thorsell, on the other hand, reportedly admitted to police that the money wasn't sent for cases in 2017 and 2018. However, he said both owners were responsible for the money not being sent.
Thorsell also reportedly said the money was used to cover their financial issues.