James douglas cassity pleads guilty to fraud and money laundering charges
St. Louis, MO -JAMES DOUGLAS CASSITY pled guilty today before United States District Judge Jean C. Hamilton to participating in a fraudulent scheme involving the sale of prearranged funeral contracts and misappropriation of insurance premiums. Cassity faces up to 115 months in prison for his role.
In court, Cassity admitted that beginning as early as 1992 and continuing until 2008, National Prearranged Services, Inc. (“NPS”) sold prearranged funeral contracts in several states, including Missouri, Illinois and Ohio. During that time, insurance companies affiliated with NPS, including Lincoln Memorial Life Insurance Company, issued life insurance policies related to those prearranged funeral contracts. As part of the contracts, the total price for funeral services and merchandise for an individual was agreed upon, and that price would remain constant regardless of when the funeral services and merchandise would be needed. Customers entering into prearranged funeral contracts would usually pay a single sum of money up-front to NPS either directly or through a funeral home that was also a party to the contract. NPS represented to individual customers, funeral homes and state regulators that funds paid by customers under the prearranged funeral contracts would be kept in a secure trust or insurance policy as required under state law. Cassity admitted, however, that NPS made use of funds paid by customers in ways that were inconsistent, both with its prior and continuing representations and with the applicable state laws and regulations. Cassity admitted that he benefited from the misuse of customer funds.
Cassity pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud (counts 17 and 21), one count of bank fraud (count 7), one count of mail fraud (count 24), one count of money laundering (count 26) and one count of misappropriation of an insurance premium (count 48).
Cassity will be sentenced on November 7, 2013. Earlier this month, Cassity’s co-defendant Sharon Nekol Province pled guilty to six counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and misappropriation of insurance premiums arising out of the same scheme. Also today, Defendant’s co-defendant Brent Douglas Cassity pled guilty to participating in the same scheme. Cassity’s co-defendants Randall K. Sutton, Howard A. Wittner and David R. Wulf are scheduled to appear for trial starting on August 5, 2013. As is always the case, charges do not constitute proof of guilt and every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.Cassity’s case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Muchnick, Charles Birmingham and Richard Finneran are handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.