The operator of a Rocky Hill funeral home, who faced serious administrative charges, has agreed to pay a $50,000 fine and accept state oversight of his business dealings in order to keep his license.
Luke DiMaria, of Abbey Cremation in Rocky Hill, was facing discipline based on 10 counts of alleged misconduct from the Department of Public Health, which oversees the funeral home industry. We first looked into the case in the fall, when one of his former employees brought it to our attention.
In November, the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters interviewed a "whistleblower" we called Dave, who worked for Luke DiMaria at Abbey Cremation for nearly three years.
He claims DiMaria charged dozens of customers for cremation caskets that he ultimately did not provide. One of the 10 charges relates to this issue. DiMaria says those containers were the whistleblower’s direct responsibility.
After he was fired, that whistleblower brought his allegations to the Department of Public Health and that led to the administrative charges against DiMaria and Abbey Cremation.
Thursday, the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors met to consider DiMaria's consent order, a settlement offer that would allow him to retain his license to work as a funeral director and not face a full hearing.
Included in that consent order is a $50,000 fine, his license is placed on a three-year probation and a state-appointed monitor will review at least 25 percent of his files every month for three years.
By a vote of two to one, the board accepted the those terms.
DiMaria spoke to the Troubleshooters after the meeting.
We asked him, "Are you concerned about complying with consent order: you or Abbey Cremation?"
"No. We're 100 percent compliant, we have been. Again, this was based on strict allegations. Nothing was ever proven and would not have been proven," he said.
In the consent order, DiMaria does not admit any guilt or wrongdoing, but he does acknowledge several record-keeping mistakes in the past.
He believes the board is holding him to a different standard. The Troubleshooters asked if he thinks the board members have an ulterior motive to put him out of business.
"When I'm charging $995 for a direct cremation and everyone else is charging 3 or 4 thousand dollars, you have your answer," he said.
The member of the board who voted against the order indicated he believes a revocation of DiMaria's license was warranted, but he declined our request for an on-camera interview.
DiMaria has already paid the $50,000 fine and will continue to operate his business.