Former North Olmsted funeral home director Mark Kacirek will be arraigned Sept 4 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on charges of taking more than $100,000 over several years from customers who had prepaid for funerals.
Kacirek, 68, former owner of Kacirek Funeral Homes, was indicted Aug. 20 by a Cuyahoga County grand jury on charges of theft and receiving stolen property. He is accused of taking the money from pre-need accounts, set up to pay for funerals in advance.
“He systematically took money from these people’s accounts for several years,” said North Olmsted police Detective Sgt. Dan Barrett. “The amount varied for different accounts, but at a time when they already were having emotional stress, they would go into those accounts and find they couldn’t pay for the funeral like they expected.”
Law enforcement officials have been working on the case for the past three years, with some victims contacting police after discovering their money was gone.
Carol Frohwerk said she was shocked when she checked the account that had been set up for her stepbrother, David J. Smith of North Olmsted, in 2016. Smith had Erb’s Palsy and cancer.
“The cancer was getting worse and we didn’t know how much longer David was going to make it,” said Frohwerk, also of North Olmsted. “So I checked the account and couldn’t believe it.”
Part of Frohwerk’s disbelief came from her trust in Kacirek, who had handled funerals for her grandmother and Smith’s mother.
When Smith died on Jan. 5, 2017, Frohwerk and the family were able to pay for the funeral, which cost $6,000.
“But what about those families who couldn’t do it themselves or who needed to find some other way to do it?” she asked.
People are unlikely to get their money back, Barrett said. Police haven’t established why Kacirek took the money. Other employees at the funeral home weren’t involved, he said.
“The amount he took from each account varied,” Barrett said. “And there could be more victims out there who we don’t know about yet.”
Kacirek got his funeral and embalming license in 1974. It expired in 2012.
Kacirek could not be reached for comment. No attorney was listed for him on the Common Pleas Court website.
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