CANTON -- A Canton funeral home director is under investigation for allegedly ripping more than $90,000 off of his clients.
Vanessa Niekamp, executive director for the state of Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, says officials have been looking into Robert A. Lewis, the owner of the Welch Sekeres Lewis Funeral Home, formerly located at 2523 Tuscarawas St. in Canton, for the last year.
According to a report filed with the Canton Police Department Wednesday, Lewis allegedly inappropriately used funds from pre-paid funeral expenses for personal gain.
Lewis also allegedly gave away a prepaid casket to other clients. The estimated total loss between more than a dozen potential victims is listed as $93,286.24, according to police reports.
Among those listed as a potential victim was Richard Lyons, 85, who buried his longtime wife just four years ago.
Lyons also made prepaid arrangements for himself, through Lewis, and altogether paid nearly $17,000 to Welch Sekeres Lewis Funeral Home.
"I paid for the obituary, all that stuff. It's all included in this $8,000," Lyons explained while reviewing a receipt. "I'm stuck, I suppose. What am I supposed to do? Sue them or something?"
The Canton Police Department is now in the early stages of its investigation.
"Mr. Lewis' funeral director's license is suspended, and additional action will be coming before the (state of Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors)," said Niekamp. "He currently does not have a license to operate a funeral home."