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Attorney General's News Release

March 12, 2010

Attorney General Koster files charges in pre-need funeral fraud case

-- Bates County man charged in 12 counts --

Butler, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster announced today that his office has charged Thomas Brandtonies, Jr., with seven counts of stealing and five counts of unlawful merchandising practices in relation to selling pre-need funeral plans at his funeral home.

Koster said Brandtonies formerly operated Underwood-Brandtonies Funeral Home in Butler, which closed in February 2009. The charges allege that Brandtonies misrepresented to some consumers who bought his pre-need funeral plans that their money would be sent to a pre-need seller to be deposited into a trust fund. Koster also alleges that Brandtonies misappropriated pre-need funeral funds provided to him by consumers by using the money for his own purposes.

“Thomas Brandtonies, Jr., is charged with defrauding consumers who were trying to make sure their funeral costs would be paid at the time of their death,” Koster said. “The Attorney General’s Office is committed to protecting consumers from those who would take advantage of their vulnerability by arduously enforcing the state’s consumer protection laws.”

Koster said under Missouri law, stealing is a Class C felony with a maximum punishment of seven years per count, and unlawful merchandising practices is a Class D felony with a maximum punishment of four years per count. The charges against the defendant are merely an accusation and, as in all criminal cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until or unless proved guilty in a court of law.

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