The owner of Dawson Funeral Home in Crapaud, P.E.I., has been ordered to pay back thousands of dollars in money received for pre-arranged funerals, and the business faces a growing number of small-claims suits.
As of Monday, nine small-claims suits had been filed against Lowell Oakes and Dawson Funeral Home.
The most recent, filed July 11, concerns a woman now living in Ontario who claims she is owed $12,404.25, for funeral arrangements she pre-purchased for her parents in 2017.
Other claims included a husband and wife who each paid $10,000, and a man who provided a $1,000 deposit for his funeral.
RCMP have said there may be dozens of victims. In addition to the small-claims lawsuits, Oakes faces 66 criminal counts of fraud.
CBC News spoke to Oakes by phone Monday. He said he "didn't plan for it to happen this way," but declined to comment further.
Oakes had his licence suspended earlier this year, and the Crapaud-based funeral home shut down, when RCMP began investigating financial irregularities.
Oakes ordered to pay complainants
RCMP have said the money paid to Dawson Funeral Home for pre-arranged funerals was supposed to have been placed in a trust fund, but that didn't happen and now the money can't be accounted for.
In three of the nine small-claims cases, the court has now ruled in favour of the complainants, and has ordered the funeral director to pay.
That includes a claim filed in April on behalf of a woman who now lives in a subsidized seniors' home in Summerside. Ten years ago, she paid $10,000 to pre-arrange her funeral. The court ordered Oakes to pay the woman $14,689.75, including interest.
The court has ordered Oakes to pay $43,869.33 to a man who made a personal loan of $30,000 to Oakes in 2017 at 10 per cent interest.
The court has also ordered Oakes to pay $16,268.83 to the Bank of Montreal, for debt owing on a business loan made to a plumbing and heating business also run by the Crapaud business man.
In 2018, Oakes was ordered to pay $78,636.56 owing under the Income Tax Act.
In April of 2021, Oakes repaid $31,229.15 to the Bank of Montreal for money owed on a credit card.
The actions in small-claims court are handled independently of the criminal fraud charges police have laid in provincial court.
The criminal case is back in court in October.
Oakes has not entered a plea to the criminal charges against him. The accusations against him have not been proven in court.