Claremont funeral director who was due in court on criminal charges found dead in Newport

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 5/16/2022 9:48:16 PM
Modified: 5/16/2022 9:46:29 PM

CLAREMONT — A funeral home director who was facing multiple allegations of illegal operating practices was found dead on Monday by police officers after he failed to appear for a scheduled court hearing.

James Roy, 65, longtime operator of Roy Funeral Home on Sullivan Street in Claremont, was to be arraigned on Monday morning in District Court, where Roy faced one count of operating an unlicensed funeral home, two counts of making funeral arrangements without a license, one count of failure to transmit a death record, four counts of transporting a dead body without a burial permit and three counts of unsworn falsification.

When Roy failed to appear at the arraignment, Claremont District Court Judge John Yazinski issued an electronic bench warrant for Roy’s arrest.

Newport Police Chief Brent Wilmot said Monday that officers followed up on the warrant by visiting Roy’s known place of residence in Newport, where they found Roy “deceased.”

Wilmot declined to offer further details, including on the cause of death.

“It is under investigation at this time,” Wilmot said in an interview on Monday.

Roy was initially arrested in March on numerous violations following an investigation by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. The complaints allege that following the 2021 expiration of Roy’s funeral home and funeral director licenses, he continued to accept new clients, failed to file a death certificate and generated counterfeit burial permits, according to a news release by the state’s Attorney General’s Office.

By law, funeral homes and funeral directors must be licensed to operate in New Hampshire, and they are required to file death certificates with and obtain burial permits from the state Division of Vital Records Administration.

On Monday, Claremont resident Vicki Lee said in an interview that Roy failed to keep over $8,000 in a trust that he received for funeral expenses for Lee’s mother-in-law, who purchased a pre-paid contract in 2016 through her power-of-attorney. The policy was supposed to cover full funeral expenses, including flowers and transportation.

However, Lee said that when she contacted the Chicago-based holding company that the contract identified as the managers of the trust, a company representative told her that the money was not in the account.

Lee and her husband Arthur “Al” Lee were among the individuals who filed complaints against Roy Funeral Home that prompted the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office to investigate last year.

In 2018, Roy admitted to a similar misappropriation of funds to the New Hampshire Board of Registration of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, according to a settlement agreement with the state.

The settlement agreement states that in 2011 Roy received over $2,000 from two Claremont sisters who entered into a prepaid funeral agreement for their mother with Roy Funeral Home.

When the mother relocated to Tennessee, the women attempted to transfer the money from Roy’s trust to a new funeral home, but learned from the holding company that there were no funds in their mother’s name.

Following an investigation by the state board, Roy “freely admitted” that he failed to deposit the money, failed to provide a statement of the funeral services and goods purchased and neglected to return the repeated phone calls by the sisters.

Under the settlement, Roy agreed to pay the state a penalty of $5,356 and reimburse the sisters their full payment plus interest, about $2,360.

In exchange the state board agreed not to pursue further disciplinary action, though the state reserved the right to use the record of Roy’s misconduct as evidence of a pattern of behavior if future complaints were received.

The latest charges against Roy, who had operated Roy Funeral Home for decades, were all Class A misdemeanors and punishable by up to 12 months in the House of Corrections and a $2,000 fine.

Valley News

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