Former co-owner of funeral homes pleads no contest to embezzlement

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette recently announced that Marti Schrauben, 43, has pleaded no contest to 70 Felony Counts of Uttering and Publishing and 3 Felony Counts of Converting Prepaid Funeral Funds. The charges stem from an embezzlement scheme conducted by Schrauben between 2008 and 2010 when he served as funeral director at Schrauben Lehman Funeral Home.

“This man took advantage of those who were in the process of planning or pre-planning funerals. Instead of supporting them through a difficult time he used their stress and grief to steal for his own financial gain,” said Schuette. “I hope this plea today brings the victims and their families one step closer to closure.”

Schrauben pleaded no contest on Tuesday, June 27, before Ionia County Circuit Court Judge Suzanne Hoseth Kreeger. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

Schrauben previously served 16 months in prison after being found guilty in relation to the embezzlement scheme he ran through Schrauben Lehman Funeral Home.

At the time of the embezzlement Schrauben had sold his ownership shares and was serving as the funeral director. He stole upwards of $400,000 dollars by forging death certificates for individuals who were still living and submitted fake insurance claims. He forged the owners name on checks that were fraudulently obtained by him depositing those funds into his personal business account.  He also asked customers to write checks for pre-paid funerals payable to his personal business account without depositing same in the appropriate escrow account for such purpose.

In May 2014, he was found guilty of 26 felony charges including Conducting a criminal Enterprise, Uttering and Publishing, Insurance Fraud and Embezzlement. After a motion was made by Schrauben’s attorney, a judge later issued a directed verdict effectively dismissing two counts of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise and eight counts of Embezzlement.

Once those 10 charges were dismissed an additional 73 felony charges were filed against Schrauben. Those 73 charges were dismissed by the trial judge, and the Department of Attorney General filed a Claim of Appeal. The Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal and the charges were allowed to move forward leading to this no contest conviction.