NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Local Funeral Home Allegedly Cheating Families - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/29/08

NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Local Funeral Home Allegedly Cheating Families

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Last month, a Lubbock Jury ordered White Funeral Home to pay a family half a million dollars for the way they mishandled a body for a funeral. That got us digging around to find out more and that's when we found another civil lawsuit filed in District Court in January,and it is one Gary White may not want you to know.  

Reyes Anaya and Veronica Ojeda became friends when working at White Funeral Home together.  Neither work there any more, they claim for good reason. "Did he cheat families out of money?" asked NewsChannel 11.  "Oh yes," both women answered. 

"He" is Gary White, general manager and funeral director of his family-run business, White Funeral Home.  He was their boss; a boss they say did not play by the rules. "Every end of the month, there was inventory checks. So I did inventory of head panels. I always had the same amount," she explained how White would cheat families.  "It showed that people were paying for them but your inventory had never changed?" NewsChannel 11 confirmed.  "Never changed," she said, "They were supposed to be buried with the body."

Reyes quit working for White after six years. She was his personal secretary. "He was always ripping off families," she said. Veronica says she was fired after working there for two years. She says it happened after she started asking why a family was not getting their refund. "Because I wasn't minding my own business, just doing what I was told. Because they knew it wasn't right," said Veronica.

Another former employee didn't think White was doing the right thing either. And it's all revealed in a lawsuit we found at the courthouse. Dennis White is suing Gary White because he claims he was assaulted and wrongfully forced to quit his job. Dennis, no relations to Gary White, was the funeral director there and claims he saw the misrepresentations, lies and forgery, claimed in his lawsuit, and how White cheated families out of money.

We showed the two women the contracts Dennis had kept and are now part of the lawsuit. Neither one says they worked with Dennis. "Funeral coach $295," said Veronica.  "She had a pre-need. Yeah, this is where he got them," said Reyes, as she looked over old contracts. Things seemed all too- familiar again. "He always did that," said Reyes.

In the lawsuit, Dennis tells six different stories of families who were cheated and overcharged. Like the story of this family. Two years ago, White allegedly charged them for a new cremation container, but instead of using a new one, White had the body put in a used container. According to the lawsuit, that container had been used days earlier to transport the body of man from Louisiana. This family was allegedly charged $150 for a family and pallbearer limousines, but Dennis claims the family should not have been charged at all.

Then another family, two years ago, had to transport a body from Dallas to Lubbock. White allegedly charged the family $495 for a permit fee. He led the family to believe it was a cost to have the body released from Dallas to be brought back to Lubbock. "Oh my gosh, what's this charge right here? The $495 permit fee for Dallas to Plano?" asked Reyes. "What is that all about?" asked NewsChannel 11.  "It is a charge he probably wanted to make money off of. In other words, we don't - there's no permit fee. This is made up," said Reyes and Veronica.

According to the lawsuit White allegedly had a false receipt made, said he paid the $495 out of his personal account, and had his mother cut him a check. He apparently got in trouble for that, and according to the lawsuit, was placed on paid administrative leave for 90 days.

This is a business man who is accused of being dishonest, not by just one person, but three. We already know he and his business had to pay out more than $500,000 to another family for their grief. White would not return our phone calls, but instead had his attorney call us. He did not want to go on camera and said the allegations in the lawsuit are false. He said Dennis is a disgruntled employee with an unstable employment history, but these women say that still does not matter to them.  "If he said he saw it, we believe him because we saw it too," they said.  

The lawsuit is still pending, so the allegations have not been proven. They go to court next spring.

The Texas Funeral Service Commission, a state regulatory agency, has an open investigation on White Funeral Home. We are working to dig a little deeper into this story because we were told there is a whole lot more. We'll let you know what we uncover.

NewsChannel 11 Investigates
NewsChannel 11 is digging deeper than just the news of the day, bringing you stories that no one else will do.  We have discovered some things in Lubbock you should know about.  See what Cecelia Jones has uncovered.

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