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Former funeral director pleads guilty to insurance fraud

Former funeral home director Rick Pyke pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of class C felony insurance fraud in Floyd County.

If Superior Court No. 1 Judge Susan Orth accepts the plea agreement at a hearing Aug. 11, Pyke will be sentenced to two years in prison followed by two years of probation. He will also have to pay $817.27 restitution to one of the victims. His case in Clark County — where the bulk of the charges were filed against him — is pending.

“We believe the plea he has offered today, based upon all the facts and evidence, is proper and appropriate,” said Niles Driskell, Pyke’s attorney. “This is the first step toward Mr. Pyke having closure for himself and accepting responsibility.”

Pyke, 44, the former owner of Pyke-Calloway Funeral Home in New Albany and R.D. Pyke Funeral Home in Henryville, was originally charged with six counts of class C felony insurance fraud in Floyd County. He was accused of cashing in insurance policies for elderly people who are still alive.

By pleading guilty, Pyke admitted in court to filing false claims in order to divert funds in connection with insurance.

Floyd County Deputy Prosecutor Timothy Gray said they contacted all the victims, but only one couple had requested restitution for their out-of-pocket expenses.

Driskell asked Orth to allow Pyke to be transported back to the Michael L. Becher Adult Corrections Complex, where he is a jail trusty working on the “chain gang” until his sentencing hearing. Orth ruled that Pyke will remain in the Floyd County Jail until after the hearing.

In Clark County, Pyke faces nine counts of class C felony insurance fraud. He also is charged there with five class D felony counts of violating the state’s cremation statute; class A misdemeanors of check deception and conversion; and 45 counts of class D felony theft. Each class D felony has a possible sentence of six months to a year, while each class C felony carries a possible sentence of two to eight years.

His trial in Clark County Superior Court No. 1 was recently delayed until Oct. 11. Driskell said it is his opinion that prosecutors could not use Pyke’s guilty plea in Floyd County as evidence of guilt in his Clark County case.

Pyke was accused of failing to provide gravestones and monuments people had purchased from him and selling preneed funeral services without putting money into escrow or trust accounts as required.

Pyke and his son, Richard “Bradley” Pyke, were arrested for theft in May 2010 during an investigation of the Henryville funeral home. A pet owner had reportedly left a dog at the funeral home for cremation and was told the ashes of the pet were ready to be picked up and paid for, but police knew the remains had already been removed.

Five human bodies — two adults and three infants — and 10 animal carcasses were found on his property during the investigation by state and local officials. That led to some people learning the ashes they received after cremation were not the remains of their loved ones.

Richard “Bradley” Pyke was sentenced in April to one year of probation after pleading guilty in Clark County Superior Court No. 3 to class A misdemeanor conversion.

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Written by lordsinsurancelog

July 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Posted in Insurance News