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Thursday, January 24, 2008

State agency loooking at funeral home funds

By Randall Beach
Register Staff

The state Department of Consumer Protection on Wednesday announced it is investigating complaints alleging Lupoli Brothers Funeral Home officials did not deposit customers’ payments for future services into an escrow account, as required by state law.
Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. said the department has received eight complaints about the funeral home’s alleged failure to escrow funds.
DCP has asked officials for the business, located at 576 Chapel St. in New Haven, to provide records concerning the funds from 2001 to the present.
Farrell said the funeral home’s representatives have so far failed to answer state officials’ questions and requests for records.
"We don’t have much information," Farrell said. "We have allegations, and we don’t have a response that satisfied us. They haven’t been forthcoming."
"It would seem a simple matter," Farrell noted. "Was the money deposited or wasn’t it?"
When the New Haven Register sought comment from funeral home officials, an answering service operator said she would relay the message to them. They did not return the call. A message left on the answering machine at Eugene Lupoli’s home in Guilford also was not returned.
Asked for the names of the Lupoli brothers, Farrell said, "The only one we’re dealing with is Eugene."
The DCP has issued a civil investigative demand for the funeral home’s banking records and funeral contracts.
In addition, the DCP is asking that anyone having a pre-need funeral contract with Lupoli immediately contact DCP Special Investigator Mary Jaglowski at (860) 713-6097.
"We need to get to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible, to either understand that everything has been done in accordance with the law, or that there is a problem that needs to be addressed," Farrell said.
This is the second recent problem with a New Haven funeral home allegedly not upholding prepaid funeral contracts. The DCP is also investigating J. Markiewicz and Sons Funeral Home and has frozen its assets.
Laura Soll, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association, said Lupoli was not a member of the association, so the group is not in contact with him. But Soll did say, "We’re not aware of his being officially closed. He still holds his license."
Randall Beach can be reached at rbeach@nhregister.com or 789-5766.

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