Va. Funeral Home Accused, Fined in Arlington Cemetery Burial Problems

June 17, 2010

A Virginia funeral home accused of mishandling bodies awaiting burial at Arlington National Cemetery has been fined $50,000.

The Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers and National Funeral Home signed a consent order Monday. National agreed to the fine, two years probation and a half-dozen unannounced inspections per year, said Lisa Marshall, spokeswoman for Service Corporation International, the funeral home's parent company.

A former employee had accused the Falls Church funeral home of storing bodies in hallways and on unrefrigerated storage racks in a garage. Funeral home officials acknowledged they stored bodies in the garage, but never for long.

The Washington Post reported on the allegations last year.

The agreement is not an admission of guilt, but a way to settle the issue, Marshall said Wednesday.

"It was time to put this behind us," she said. "The (funeral home's) associates were continually distracted by the ongoing investigation."

The Post reported last year that the former employee's documentation, as well as the observations of three other employees and a grieving son, sparked an investigation by the state board. Marshall said the funeral home has added refrigeration and tightened regulations, policies and training.

"There is a renewed focus on respect for our families," Marshall said.

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