State Board Charges Funeral Homes With Violations : Probe: Neptune Society allegedly mishandled remains and failed to put consumers’ money in trust fund. The organization denies any wrongdoing.


Three Neptune Society funeral homes, including one in San Pedro, mishandled the cremations of three men and failed to put more than $12.5 million of consumers’ money in a trust fund, according to a state agency.

The allegations were made recently against the Neptune Society of Los Angeles in San Pedro and Burbank and the Neptune Society of Santa Barbara after an investigation by Richard P. Yanes, executive officer of the state Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. Yanes filed the accusations with the board, which will decide what action to take.

Officials at Neptune, a cremation company that picks up bodies, stores them and arranges for their disposal, deny the charges. If the charges are proved true, the licenses of the funeral homes could be revoked.


Yanes said the remains of Bertram Carter and Dallas Williams of Los Angeles and Gary Manoff, whose residence is unknown, were mishandled, and the funeral homes engaged in “fraud and misrepresentation.”

The San Pedro funeral home was responsible for all three bodies, Yanes said. All three sites are being investigated for mishandling of funds under the accusation.

Yanes says Carter’s body was discovered at Neptune’s San Pedro facility in September after funeral home officials said the ashes had been scattered at sea.

In the Williams case, the accusation says Neptune delivered cremated remains to Williams’ wife in June, but his body was discovered in a funeral home storage facility in September. Neptune gave false information to the Registrar of Vital Statistics to correct Williams’ death certificate, Yanes says.

In the Manoff case, Yanes says, Neptune misrepresented itself as having the authority to remove Manoff’s body from a care facility and cremate it. Neptune allegedly told Manoff’s brother the ashes would be stored, but then they were scattered at sea two months later.

The society also allegedly furnished false information on the death certificate and forged the physician’s signature on it, Yanes said.


“There has been no wrongdoing by the society,” a society statement said. “All of our customers’ funds are fully protected in trust accounts, and there is no risk to any of our customers. We have been servicing the needs of our customers for over 20 years and take great pride in the sensitivity of our business as well as our obligations to our members.”

Burt Pines, a lawyer for the Neptune Society, said he is planning to file a formal defense and request a formal hearing.

The complaint also involves money paid by consumers for urns, memorial plaques and containers. Yanes said only 9,000 items that customers had paid for were available during an inventory in November, although the society said it had 90,500 items for its customers. The difference in the value of the inventory is about $9 million in consumer funds, he said.

Also, the society collected membership registration fees totaling more than $3.4 million that should have been placed in a trust fund, Yanes said.