Local funeral home owners indicted on theft, fraud, forgery charges

State investigators conduct a search in May at Filbeck-Cann & King Funeral Home, as well as two other associated properties. Owners Tim and Becky King were indicted Tuesday on felony theft, forgery and fraud charges.

Two local business owners are facing felony charges on suspicion of theft, forgery and fraud.

A Marshall County grand jury on Tuesday returned indictments on Tim and Becky King, owners and operators of Filbeck-Cann and King Funeral Home in Benton. Tim King, 45, of Benton, and Becky King, 43, of Benton, were both charged with two felony counts of fraudulent insurance acts over $500, one felony count of theft by unlawful taking or disposition all others, $10,000 or more but under $1 million and one felony count of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. The Kings also face two misdemeanor charges of fraudulent insurance acts $500 or less.

According to the indictment, the grand jury found sufficient evidence that between 2007 and 2010, the accused sold pre-need life insurance policies valued at more than $300 without a license.

The indictment also alleges the Kings, between 2010 and 2016, knowingly and with intent to defraud, received money valued at more than $300 from individuals for life insurance policies but failed to obtain that insurance. The Kings have been accused of selling pre-need policies without a license valued at more than $500 between 2010 and 2016; and the indictment alleges the Kings, between 2007 and 2017, forged the signature of licensed insurance agents on 64 policies. Those policies were submitted to both Investors Heritage Life Insurance Company and Columbian Life Insurance Company in January 2017.

The grand jury also found enough evidence to proceed on charges that on Nov. 4, 2014, Becky King received payment for pre-need burial arrangements but did not place funds in a life insurance policy or trust fund. The indictment alleges the couple kept the funds until Aug. 14, 2017.

Tim King was accused of on Dec. 28, 2011, receiving a $55,926 payment from New York Life Insurance Company and Reassure Life Insurance Company for funeral expenses upon the client’s passing. King allegedly did not reimburse the family the remaining balance $13,926.68.

Investigators with the Kentucky Department of Insurance Fraud and Kentucky State Police initiated a search of the funeral home, crematorium and a personal property owned by Tim King in May, in response to a referral from Investors Heritage Insurance in February alleging that King had collected money for pre-need burial policies and did not forward the payments and applications to secure those policies.

Collier Funeral Home in Benton discovered there were policies missing in November and December, according to warrant documents, when several individuals requested their arrangements be transferred from Filbeck-Cann and King. Those clients provided copies of signed life insurance applications and copies of payments for the policies; Collier Funeral Home owner Mitchell Lee verified with Investors Heritage that those policies were not in place.

Lee contacted King, who then made payment directly to Collier for the individuals’ arrangements in question, according to a statement from investigator Carolyn Chamberlin.

King reportedly then made three payments from Jan. 27 to Feb. 14 to Investors Heritage totaling $207,527.46 along with 39 applications for insurance to the company; applicants’ signed paperwork dated back to 2013. King also submitted a $129,783.82 payment on Feb. 14 to Columbian Life along with 24 more applications for insurance, with signatures dating back to 2007.

Court documents say monies collected for these purposes were required by law to have been forwarded directly to the insurance companies or put into a trust fund.

“Tim King kept over $311,000 from 2007 to 2016 of individuals’ money that should have been sent to insurance companies for life insurance policies, as required by law,” Chamberlin’s statement reads. “King has told the insurance companies he had forwarded all funds and applications, but there is no way to verify this information unless Filbeck-Cann & King’s records are obtained and reviewed. It is also possible that Tim King has not placed individuals’ payments into ‘trust fund’ accounts for their burial arrangements as mandated by KRS.”

Police took electronic and paper records relating to burial/funeral contracts and payments for those contracts, all life insurance policies and financial institution records for trust fund accounts for further review.

According to a report in the Marshall County Tribune-Courier, investigators turned over the results of their investigation Sept. 1 to Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship’s office.

Emily Roark, who has been tapped along with Mark Bryant to represent the Kings, said that the funeral home will continue to operate as usual.

“This investigation has been going on for a long time, and we have been aware of it,” Roark said. “… All monies are where they are supposed to be as far as pre-need of his clients. I think it’s important for everyone to know, that if they came in there for funeral (arrangements), then the money is exactly where it’s supposed to be. And that’s been investigated, and I think that will show up in any discovery.”

A judge issued a summons Tuesday for Tim and Becky King to appear for arraignment at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26 in Marshall County Circuit Court. Blankenship said the Kings would report to the Marshall County Detention Center for processing prior to that date at his request, but had not done so as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.