Former Employee of National Prearranged Services Inc. and Lincoln Memorial Life Insurance Company Brent Cassity Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Money Laundering Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 03, 2013|
ST. LOUIS, MO—Brent 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 monetary transactions involving the proceeds of that scheme. Cassity, 46, faces up to five years 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 Tennessee and Ohio. During that time, insurance companies affiliated with NPS issued life insurance policies related to those prearranged funeral contacts. 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 was employed at various times by NPS and also served as a director of Lincoln Memorial Life Insurance Company, for which NPS served as general agent. Cassity also held numerous titles with affiliated companies, including chief executive officer, chairman, president, and director of Forever Enterprises Inc.; and president and director of National Heritage Enterprises.
Cassity pled guilty to one count of mail fraud (count 31), one count of wire fraud (count 21), and one count of money laundering (count 38). Cassity also pled guilty to willfully permitting James Douglas Cassity, whom he knew to have been convicted of a felony involving fraud or dishonesty, to exercise significant control over NPS’s affiliated insurance companies (count 50)
Cassity will be sentenced on November 7, 2013, at 9 a.m. Earlier this month, Cassity’s co-defendant and fellow NPS executive Sharon Nekol Province pled guilty to six counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and misappropriation of insurance premiums arising out of the same scheme. Cassity’s co-defendants, James Douglas Cassity, Randall K. Sutton, Howard A. Wittner, and David R. Wulf have entered pleas of not guilty and 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 Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of 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.