P.E.I. funeral director expelled, fined over pre-paid funeral accusations

·2 min read
Issues came to light during a routine inspection, says the Prince Edward Island Funeral Services and Professions Board. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)
Issues came to light during a routine inspection, says the Prince Edward Island Funeral Services and Professions Board. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)

The owner of Dawson Funeral Home in Crapaud has had his licences revoked following an industry association investigation into allegations he misappropriated money paid for pre-arranged funerals.

In addition to his funeral director and funeral home operator licences being revoked, Lowell Oakes was fined a total of $15,000 by the Prince Edward Island Funeral Services and Professions Board.

A person who answered the phone at Lowell's house on Friday wouldn't take a message and said it was unlikely he would want to comment about the situation.

In February, RCMP said they had launched an investigation into alleged financial irregularities at Dawson Funeral Home; as of Friday morning, they confirmed that their investigation is ongoing.

n a news release Friday, the funeral services board said issues with the way Oakes was handling pre-arranged funeral funds came to light during a routine inspection in August 2021.

Based on the inspector's report and further investigation, a committee of the board determined that the funeral home misappropriated $316,790.98 in funds and defrauded a number of individuals out of their purchased pre-arranged funerals.

Owner provided responses

Oakes provided the board with written responses to the allegations, the news release said.

In one response, Oakes indicated that eight people had their money refunded in full, the release said, but the board concluded that those refunds didn't include interest and that the operator failed to put the funds in a trust account as required.

Oakes also said in 16 cases people had their funeral services provided, according to the release.

The board, however, concluded there could not have been enough money to pay for those funerals and that Oakes must have used money paid for other pre-arranged funerals and ordinary funeral funds.

Small claims actions

In April, CBC News reported that three legal actions had been filed against Oakes and his business in P.E.I.'s small claims court, over prepaid funeral arrangements made with Dawson Funeral Home.

One of the plaintiffs said in legal documents that Oakes had visited after word broke about the alleged irregularities.

"He informed us that the $20,000... had never been deposited. He indicated it was hard to make ends meet in that business ... but [he] had always been able to cover funerals as they arose," the plaintiff claims in the court document.

"He asked us not to share this information with anyone outside our home. He did not want anyone to know."

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