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July 23, 2020 - 4:54pm

Local funeral director charged with stealing money from customers

posted by Howard B. Owens in Michael Tomaszewski, batavia, news, notify.

Local funeral director Michael S. Tomaszewski, 48, is being charged with 91 counts of failure to deposit monies paid in advance in connection with agreements for funeral merchandise or services.

He has been arrested following an investigation by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office opened an investigation into Tomaszewski after a client of the Office of the Aging received a complaint from a customer of the Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral Home & Cremation Chapel. The client expressed concern regarding a deposit made for prepaid funeral arrangements. 

The investigation led authorities to conclude that Tomaszewski had received prepayments from 91 customers for which trust accounts were never opened.  

Reached this afternoon, Tomaszewski declined to comment.

When a funeral director receives prepayment for funeral services, the director is required under NYS law to place the money in a trust account within 10 days.  

Investigators believe no such accounts were ever opened. 

Additionally, Tomaszewski is accused of receiving payment for two headstones, and gravesites that were never purchased.

The deposits ranged from $350 to $15,500. It's alleged that Tomaszewski's customers sustained a total loss of approximately $525,000.

In February, Tomaszewski filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in Federal Court.

Tomaszewski is charged with 61 counts of third-degree grand larceny, 29 counts of fourth-degree grand larceny 4th, and three counts of petit larceny.

He is also charged with five counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. He is accused of creating fake business documents reflecting nonexistent account information for trust accounts.

The longtime funeral director, who also owns the Dibble Family Center, is also accused of knowingly sending fake documentation to the Department of Social Services and is charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

There are also two counts of scheme to defraud filed against Tomaszewski. He is accused of engaging in a scheme constituting a systematic course of conduct with intent to defraud at least 10 people by making false promises to obtain money. He is also accused of defrauding a vulnerable elderly person as defined by state law.

Today, Tomaszewski was arraigned in Genesee County Court by Judge Charles Zambito via Skype. He was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to appear in Batavia Town Court at 10 a.m., Sept. 17.

The investigation is ongoing and further charges are expected, according to the Sheriff's Office. Anybody who wishes to check the status of any prepaid account can call (800) 577-3752 to verify the existence of a preplan account. Anybody who believes they are a victim is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (585) 343-5000.

In his personal bankruptcy, Tomaszewski lists $409,896 in assets, including a home on Edgewood Drive valued at $396,549. He claims to owe $1,570,682 to 25 creditors, including more than $25,000 to the IRS along with back taxes owed to the State of New York.

Tomaszewski is the owner of Acme Holdings of NY Inc. Acme owns the building that houses his funeral home, and adjacent property, including the Dibble Center. Acme has also filed for bankruptcy. In the Acme bankruptcy filing, Tomaszewski lists $684,450 in assets and $1,671,708 in debts.

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