Funeral, casket scam targets military vets in FL, Stillwater

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota has been alerted to an out-of-state casket and funeral supply company, claiming to be “Veterans serving Veterans.”

In Forest Lake, Mattson Funeral Home received information on a local family who had been contacted by the company in 2011. The company was in the process of selling pre-funeral arrangements for a family member who is a veteran.

In Minnesota, the BBB has documented cases of door-to-door sales efforts attempting to sell caskets and urns to veterans at prices some three times the cost for such items through a funeral home. Companies have also reportedly made claims they would provide burial service at national cemeteries. Veterans honorably discharged from the military are eligible for free interment in national cemeteries.

In a Stillwater case reported to the BBB, a veteran paid $1600 for a funeral urn from a door-to-door sales pitch only to learn later from a funeral director in Stillwater that the funeral home sold the same product for $400.

In Forest Lake, any such door-to-door sales efforts require a peddler’s permit issued by the city of Forest Lake.

There are more than 5,000 funerals and burials in the United States each day, the BBB says, and the majority of grieving families are assisted by capable and compassionate funeral industry professionals. Those that are not so lucky probably were misinformed or ill-prepared for the decisions involved in making funeral arrangements for a loved one.

FL crime reports

Police in Forest Lake on Saturday arrested a 26-year-old city woman on probable cause of child endangerment.

Police Capt. Greg Weiss said officers were called to a home in the 6000 block of Appaloosa Ave. N. at 1:30 p.m. to check on the welfare of a young child under the age 3. Weiss said officers received a call from the public to check on the child.

He said the woman told police during an interview that her daughter was acting out and she struck her in the middle of the back in an attempt to quiet her. Weiss said the child had a mark on her back from the blow.

The mother was arrested and taken to the Washington County Jail in Stillwater where she was booked on probable cause of felony malicious punishment of a child. Formal charges were still pending on Tuesday, he said.

The child was placed in the custody of relatives, he said.

An Easy Pinch

A Forest Lake squad on patrol at 12:30 a.m. Sunday had a strong hint of impaired driving when a vehicle nearly collided with the police car on southbound SW 12th St.

The squad was traveling in the right lane when a second southbound vehicle attempted to make a right hand turn from the left lane to Arby’s, Weiss said. The officer was able to avoid the crash and immediately stopped the vehicle.

The driver, a 43-year-old woman from Scandia, produced a preliminary breath test of .32, four times the legal rate for driving.

She was arrested and taken to the Washington County Jail and later sent to detox. She will be charged with third-degree driving while intoxicated.