Funeral director accused of stealing from the dead - WSMV Channel 4

Funeral director accused of stealing from the dead

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

If burying a loved one wasn't hard enough, the Channel 4 I-Team has learned a funeral director is accused of taking money from a grieving family, and it isn't the first time he has been in trouble.

We have also uncovered that he was working at a local funeral home as a funeral director and embalmer for nearly six months, even though his license had been suspended.

And on the very day this investigation was set to air, the man has been fired.

George Baker worked at Patton Brothers Funeral Home in Nashville. While he was funeral director he was accused by his employer of changing the name of a beneficiary on an insurance policy from the deceased's relative to his own mother.

Then, his mother ended up collecting nearly $2,400 that was owed to a grieving family who had just buried their loved one.

That complaint was lodged in 2009, but it wasn't until March that Baker's license was suspended. Robert Gribble, executive director of the Tennessee Funeral Board, said that is because the complaint process is lengthy.

And, according to a consent order, Baker had his license to practice as a funeral director and embalmer suspended to avoid formal charges.

But, in a 2010 letter to the funeral board, Baker said the allegations came about because of an ongoing dispute with the Patton family, which owned the funeral home. Baker claimed they were trying to "publicly humiliate him."

Patton Brothers Funeral Home was recently bought by the New Generation Funeral home in Antioch, in a strange twist, Baker still has ties to the Nashville funeral home.

The I-Team visited both locations and called to track Baker down, but we were not able to get in touch with him.

It turns out Baker was still employed by Patton Brothers' new owner, New Generation, until this week.

A statement from New Generation arrived on the day the I-Team investigation was set to air:

"The owners of New Generation Funeral Home initially became aware that Mr. Baker's license had been suspended on Sept. 14, 2012, after they received a faxed notice of suspension letter from the Board of Funeral Directors. On that day, the owners immediately demoted Mr. Baker to the position of funeral assistant and referred the matter to the funeral home's attorney. After investigating the matter, they discovered that Mr. Baker's license was actually suspended on March 28, 2012, but his suspension had not been disclosed to the funeral home until Sept. 14, 2012. Mr. Baker is no longer employed with New Generation Funeral Home."

Baker's license to practice as a funeral director and embalmer has been suspended until March 2013. He also has to pay a $1,000 fine. According to public records, Baker paid the money back he allegedly took from that grieving family, and the funeral home agreed not to press charges against him when he reimbursed the money.

The Channel 4 I-Team has learned this isn't Baker's first time in trouble with the funeral board. Back in 2003, his was placed on probation for two years for unprofessional conduct and misrepresentation for allegedly using a power of attorney for fraudulent means.

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