The Federal Trade Commission announced today that a Hinsdale, Illinois funeral home and its owner pled guilty to criminal contempt charges for violating a 1992 agreement with the FTC. Edward Olenec, owner of Elliston Funeral Home, faces up to 6 months in jail or probation for criminal contempt. The funeral home could be fined as much as $250,000. The criminal contempt motion was filed by Scott Lassar, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, on behalf of the FTC. Sentencing for the defendants has been set for January 17, 2001.
In July 1992, Olenec and the Elliston Funeral Home were charged by the FTC with violating the Funeral Rule by, among other things, failing to provide consumers with general price, casket price, or outer burial container price lists. The Commission also charged the defendants with charging fees for goods and services that were never provided. To settle the charges, Olenec and Elliston paid a $50,000 civil penalty and paid $13,000 in restitution to overcharged consumers. The settlement also prohibited them from future violations of the Rule and required them, among other things, to give a copy of the consent decree to current and future employees and to get the employee's signature acknowledging receipt.
In the action announced today, Olenec and the funeral home admitted to violating the 1992 consent decree by failing to provide a copy of the court order to any employees and failing to obtain any employee's written acknowledgment of receiving a copy of the order. In addition, Olenec and Elliston admitted to failing to provide consumers with a general price list or lists of casket and outer burial container prices.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul R. Garcia and Reid J. Schar. The contempt hearing was held September 19 before U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras.
Copies of the FTC's earlier action in this matter are available from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Rm. 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; toll-free: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
Office of Public Affairs
C. Steven Baker
Public Information Officer
U.S. Attorney's Office
(FTC File No. 892-3027; Civil Action No. 92-C-4294) (Elliston2)