Funeral home operator charged with forging death certificates

Suffern. Rockland County DA says Warwick resident sought to collect funds from designated pre-paid burial escrow accounts.

02 Sep 2020 | 07:15

A Suffern funeral home director living in Warwick has been charged with forging three death certificates in order to collect funds from designated pre-paid burial escrow accounts.

“This is a case that strikes at the very core of community,” Rockland County District Attorney Tom Walsh II said in the press release detailing the nine-count felony indictment of Leonard Scarr. “Our own family, friends and neighbors have been deceived and defrauded by a business-person as we plan for our future funeral expenses.”

Walsh announced that Scarr, 53, of Warwick, was indicted on nine Class D felonies stemming from an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office and the Ramapo Police Department.

Scarr is the owner of Scarr Funeral Home located in Suffern.

According to the district attorney, on or about and between July 11, 2019, and October 11, 2019, on three occasions, Scarr forged three separate death certificates for three different individuals whom he had contracted with to set up designated pre-paid burial escrow accounts.

The district attorney said that as trustee, Scarr could only receive an account’s funds upon the death of the account holder. He presented the forged death certificates to representatives of the bank where the burial escrow accounts were held and withdrew the accounts’ funds, each of which exceeded $6,000, Walsh’s office said.

The indictment consisted of three counts of third-degree grand larceny, three counts of second-degree forgery and three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Each county carries a maximum penalty of seven years in state prison. The forgery charges also carry fines of at least $5,000 or double the defendant’s gain in the forgery, according to the New York State Penal Code.

“My team, led by Supervising Assistant District Attorney Michael Dugandzic, and the Ramapo Police Department have been working very hard to track down any victims out there and build a solid case against Mr. Scarr,” Walsh said. “My heartfelt sympathy to those who fell victim to this egregious crime.

“We ask that any other potential victims of Leonard Scarr come forward and that families who had not yet received their loved ones cremated remains from Scarr Funeral home contact the Rockland County District Attorney’s Investigators at 845-731-4100 or the Ramapo Police Department at 845-357-2400,” the district attorney added.