More Trouble For Funeral Home Already Facing Drug Charges

Sunday, February 18th 2007, 2:07 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Investigators believe a Purcell funeral home operator already facing drug charges also may have sold prepaid funeral benefits without a license and held graveside services illegally.

Charles Damet, 50, the owner of Yoakum-Damet Funeral Home, and five other people were arrested last week during a raid of the business that netted drugs, paraphernalia and weapons.

On Thursday, the state Insurance Department ordered the funeral home to stop operating and seized business financial records, agency spokesman Marc Young said.

Damet's license to sell prepaid funeral benefits expired Aug. 4, 2004, but investigators suspect Damet of continuing to sell policies, Young said.

"If policies were sold (after 2004), we suspect that money was never set aside in a trust fund as required by law," Young said.

Investigators took steps Friday to freeze the funeral home's assets. Since Damet's arrest, Young said the department, local law enforcement agencies and the state attorney general's office have received numerous phone calls from people worried about prepaid funeral benefits with the Yoakum-Damet Funeral Home.

"We don't know if there has been misappropriation of funds yet or, if so, the extent of it," Young said.

Damet is under investigation by the Oklahoma Funeral Board for other possible licensing violations, Executive Director Terry McEnany said. The business's operating license and Damet's license to embalm expired Dec. 31, McEnany said.

According to a search warrant request filed in McClain County District Court Tuesday, sheriff and police investigators said they set up surveillance of the funeral home after getting numerous tips that Damet was using the business as a front for dealing drugs.

Investigators also sent a confidential informant to the funeral home three times in January to buy methamphetamine, according to court papers.

On Jan. 30, investigators said they stopped a hearse on a traffic complaint as it left the business. They confiscated drugs, a handgun, a rifle and two shotguns from the vehicle.