McGraw wins suit against funeral director

John O'Brien Mar. 22, 2007, 3:45pm


ELKINS, W. Va. - The owner of a funeral home will repay almost $35,000 she allegedly misappropriated funds from customers who prepaid for funerals.

Cheryl Runner Kittle, of F.E. Runner Funeral home, was sued by West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw in January. Randolph Circuit Judge John Henning awarded McGraw default judgment on Monday.

According to a report in the Elkins Inter-Mountain, Henning agreed to the judgment as a penalty to prevent Kittle from filing for bankruptcy protection.

Kittle was also sued in 2004 by McGraw, who alleged the funeral home violated state regulations concerning pre-need accounts. Kittle still faces criminal charges and is permanently barred from selling pre-need funeral contracts.

"The facts that we had against Cheryl Runner were plain and simple and black and white," Hedges said, according to the report. "Lots of money had been given to her by consumers, that she failed to put in trust accounts or into life insurance policies as required by law. There were very few defenses that we could even think of that she could possibly even bring up. So the default judgment was merciful for all parties, including the defendant."

McGraw's complaint alleged that approximately $20,000 had been misappropriated from pre-need accounts. The number, according to the Court, turned out to be $34,699.

Attorney Richard Shylock was named conservator for the funeral home and said it has more than $700,000 in debts, the report says.

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