Historic Springfield funeral home owner convicted of theft

Historic Springfield funeral home owner convicted of theft

The owner of a well-known Springfield funeral home was convicted in federal court of collecting Social Security money on a woman who had died and his license is under review by the state.

Robert C. Henry II, one of the owners of the Robert C. Henry Funeral Home, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of public money in September 2016 in the Southern District of Ohio Western Division, according to court documents obtained by the Springfield News-Sun.

He agreed to pay $181,000 in restitution in a plea deal and serve probation for up to three years. Calls to Henry’s public defender and Henry’s family members by the News-Sun weren’t returned.

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“Robert Henry II stole approximately $180,927.44 in Title II Retirement and Survivor’s Insurance benefits to which he was not entitled that had been electronically deposited by the Social Security Administration into the bank account of the intended beneficiary,” the federal court documents say.

The thefts took place over the course of 15 years, according to the document.

Henry wrote in a letter to the Ohio Board of Funeral Embalmers and Funeral Directors that he had power of attorney over the woman who died and when she did the checks continued to be issued.

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“I forwarded those checks to her family,” Henry said. “Because I had (power of attorney) for this lady, I was held responsible for those funds. I was not able to locate her family after death nor was I able to prove that they received those funds, so I was held responsible for taking the money and I was convicted of a crime that I was responsible for but did not actually commit.”

He is paying the money back with his personal money, the letter says.

Henry’s funeral director license is still active, according to the state of Ohio’s online license check system. However, the Ohio Board of Funeral Embalmers and Funeral Directors were reviewing his license this past spring because of an untruth on the application, according to a board agenda obtained by the Springfield News-Sun.

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“The license renewal application includes a series of questions each licensee must answer prior to completion of the renewal. Question number six explicitly asks if the licensee has been found guilty of, or plead guilty or no contest to a felony. Mr. Henry II answered, ‘No.’ His answer contradicts his plead in a court of law approximately three months earlier,” according to the funeral board agenda.

As part of the violation section of the agenda report, the board has the right to refuse to grant or renew or may suspend or revoke any license issued because of the application error. He also faced a an accusation of unprofessional conduct because he allegedly falsified or misrepresented information on the application, according to the funeral board agenda.

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The board voted unanimously to charge Henry with unprofessional conduct, according to the agenda. The state board hasn’t returned multiple phone calls to answer questions about current status of that charge.

Henry is the son of Robert C. Henry, believed to be the first black mayor of a city Springfield’s size. The last obituary that was posted on the Robert C. Henry Funeral Home’s website is from July 30.

The funeral home is at 527 S. Center St. in Springfield. A man who answered the door said the Henrys weren’t there but that the business was still open. A phone call to the funeral home this week was forwarded to a different business, Jerry W. Kinley Funeral Home.

Kinley, who used to work at the Henry funeral home, said he’s working on opening a new one in Springfield. Kinley has hired the Henry staff members, he said.

“There is a legacy and history with the Robert C. Henry Funeral Home,” he said. “It’s been a big pillar in the community in Springfield and by this happening, it’s sad.”

Kinley emphasized that his business wasn’t connected with any of the legal problems at the Henry business, but that he wants to fill the gap left behind and serve Springfield.

“I have over 100 years of family history in Springfield,” Kinley said. “I do have my building that I am waiting to close on in Springfield. It’s a new facility for the families of Springfield.”

He declined to say where the building is.

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