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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 4, 2002

Mortuary accused of lacking license

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — The state is seeking $200,000 in fines against a Hilo mortuary for allegedly selling funeral plans without a license during the past 20 years.

The civil complaint against Memorial Mortuary filed this week in 3rd Circuit Court is separate from an ongoing criminal investigation of mortuary owners Robert and Momi Diego. The Diegos and daughter Bobbie Jean Diego were arrested for second-degree theft in March but have never been charged.

In that case, the state attorney general is looking into allegations the mortuary sold caskets to bereaved families but buried the corpses in body bags on bare earth. The criminal case also involves the sale of funeral plans and whether embalmings were performed by unlicensed people.

The Diegos have denied any wrongdoing, blaming a disgruntled former employee for spreading the allegations. Robert Diego said yesterday he wouldn't comment on the complaint filed by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs until his attorney has a chance to review it.

The complaint outlines 20 funeral plan transactions totaling $41,245 that occurred from January 1981 to January of this year. Deputy Attorney General Haunani Alm said the sales were done without benefit of a license.

A hearing date on the complaint had not been set.