BUFFALO - A Fredonia funeral director was ordered to repay customers who made advance payments after he improperly spent the money beforehand.
According to records filed in State Supreme Court in Erie County, Michael R. Fantauzzi, who operates Fantauzzi Funeral Home, admitted accepting advance payments from two customers before subsequently failing to deposit the funds into a trust account, as required by law, and instead spent the money for his own purposes.
His victims include one woman who only discovered that $5,414 her mother paid Fantauzzi was gone after she switched funeral homes and was forced to pay all her mother's cremation and burial costs herself.
When she asked Fantauzzi to return the cash, he told her he had "some financial issues" and had spent it all, court records show.
Fantauzzi owed $11,234 out of $19,234 in advance payments.
Erie County Supreme Court Judge Donna M. Siwek ordered Fantauzzi to repay the outstanding balance as well as $3,000 in costs and penalties for "deceptive and fraudulent practices." The order and judgment was filed March 13.
Fantauzzi was also prohibited from accepting advance payments from any customers in the future.
The case was brought forward by James M. Morrissey, the Assistant Attorney General of Council for the office of State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
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