The Office of the Attorney General said it seized the remains of more than 100 people after filing a consumer lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order was filed against a northwest Washington, D.C., funeral home.
The attorney general for D.C. said the home was operating without proper licenses. While the investigation is going on, remains that were located at the Austin Royster Funeral Home have been moved to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Attorney General Karl Racine said Austin Royster Funeral Home, located in the 500 block of Kennedy Street Northwest, charged grieving families for services it did not provide, according to a release from the Office of the Attorney General. Racine filed the suit on Nov. 18 in a D.C. Superior Court Civil Division.
He said Austin Royster has been operating without a proper license for a period of time, meaning families could not receive death certificates. Without the proper death documentation, families would be unable to access bank accounts and insurance policies, begin probate proceedings, or allow for burial or cremation of the body, according to the OAG.
“Grieving families shouldn’t have to worry about whether they are being taken advantage of while mourning the loss of their loved ones. We are deeply concerned that Austin Royster may have engaged in multiple unlawful practices while providing funeral services,” said Racine. “Our office is working hard to help relatives and friends of the deceased individuals conclude their affairs and get restitution.”
The funeral home said they would not be making a statement about the case.
The lawsuit alleged the funeral home accepted an insurance payment of $53,000 for services that cost $5,767 and did not returned the rest of the money to the consumer. Racine is warning people from doing any further business with the funeral home.
Any D.C. resident who thinks they may have been the victim in this case or from any type of fraud or scam can file a consumer complaint by calling OAG’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (202) 442-9828, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or submitting a complaint via a webform.