A former Uniontown funeral director pleaded guilty Tuesday in Fayette County to bilking more than 80 customers out of more than $500,000 worth of pre-paid funeral policy payments.
Stephen E. Kezmarsky III, 52, of Uniontown, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, forgery and insurance fraud, according to state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and District Attorney Richard Bower.
Shapiro and Bower accused Kezmarsky of collecting advanced payments from clients to cover their eventual funeral and related costs, but then mixed the money into business and personal accounts and used the funds for travel, food, liquor and other personal expenses.
He also stole clients’ prepaid funeral funds by filling out applications for funeral insurance policies but never sending the money or applications to insurance companies to process, investigators said.
Judge Steve Leskinen did not set a sentencing date, according to court dockets.
“This defendant specifically targeted members of our vulnerable senior community who worked hard to prepay for their funeral services to limit the financial burden on their families after they pass,” Shapiro said.
“Kezmarsky took responsibility for this crime. I am grateful to the people of Fayette County who came forward to report this scam to my office, and we will continue our commitment to holding scammers and con artists accountable to Pennsylvanians,” he said.
“The office of district attorney is committed to protecting and bringing justice for senior citizens who have been taken advantage of in theft and other cases,” added Bower.
Kezmarsky is the former owner-operator of Kezmarsky Funeral Home. The business on South Pennsylvania Avenue closed in April 2017 after a bankruptcy filing, and he went to work for another area funeral home.
After Shapiro and Bower jointly announced the charges against Kezmarsky in January 2018, more than two dozen individuals came forward to say they were also were targeted.
Shapiro’s office said restitution to victims will be determined during sentencing. The case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Dennis Kistler and Bower.