JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – A southern Indiana man is accused of pocketing more than $30,000 after investigators say he sold funeral items to people, but never purchased them.
The Kentucky Attorney General's Office has identified eight victims, but investigators believe there could more. The latest victim was a southern Indiana woman and that's where police issued a warrant for Robert Kraft's arrest.
Gail O'Neil of Jeffersonville said when her mother started to get sick she wanted to be prepared.
"The person I am, I just want everything in place while my head was halfway cleared instead of being rushed into things," said O'Neil.
Several years ago her family decided to use a company called Casket Royale in Louisville. Court documents show Kraft worked for Casket Royale. Before the company went out of business in 2011 all customers were given refunds. Police believe Kraft kept a list of clients and started to contact them.
"He asked them to repurchase items for him, which they did," said Jeremy Mull, Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor, "but instead of doing the appropriate thing with that money, he spent it."
O'Neil said she decided to meet with Kraft.
"Mr. Kraft was very professional, he had all the documentation, he had all the information he would need to do what I thought he was going to do, which was to protect my interest for my mom," said O'Neil.
O'Neil paid Kraft more than $3,500 and she wasn't alone. Court documents reveal Tom Burch, a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, contacted the Kentucky Attorney General after he paid Kraft more than $5,000 for caskets that were supposed to be set aside for him and his wife. Burch said the money has never been refunded.
"I pray that he gets help because he needs it to prey on vulnerable people when it comes to their loved ones and trying to fulfill their loved ones wishes and thinking that something was in place when it wasn't," said O'Neil.
Kraft told investigators his plan was to take the money and use it for his own use and if a death occurred, he would purchase the casket out of his own pocket.
Indiana law is very clear - if you take money from somebody for any type of funeral service or merchandise it must be put in an escrow or trust account which did not happen.
Kraft will be charged with two felonies - unlawful use of prepaid funeral service or merchandise funds and theft.
While Kraft is related to the family of Kraft Funeral Home in New Albany, he has no affiliation with that business.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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