Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Editors’ Forum | Cops, health workers in conspiracy with unregistered undertakers

Published:Tuesday | July 17, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer

Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), health professionals and other hospital employees are allegedly accepting bribes to steer families of the dead to unregistered funeral services operators that offer cheap, but oftentimes unprofessional, services.

President of the Jamaica Association of Certified Embalmers and Funeral Directors, Calvin Lyn, has said that he had to write to the police commissioner regarding some members of the JCF who solicit business for these 'fly-by-night' funeral services operators at scenes where bodies are processed.

"Say a death occurs and the police are called, they have all the information and they call their friends in the funeral business and solicit," Lyn told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.

He said that many grieving family members believed they were receiving a deal, but in several cases, the police-connected undertakers charged similar fees to registered embalmers and were given substandard services.

"[For] the suitcase operators, this is not a business. If they make a $5,000, they are good, and that does not fly [or is unacceptable] in this industry. You are supposed to embalm a body properly. These people are using syringes, spray pans that exterminators use. They are doing all sorts of things," Stephanie Morgan, of Morgan's Funeral Parlour, told the forum.

Morgan continued: "They are storing bodies in deep freezes. They promise packages for $180,000, and tell people that they will get a single vault, and a lot of families don't know what that is. But when the body goes to Dovecot or Meadowrest, it is really a half of a double-vault they get. They don't know that until after the fact, that they are conned.

"[The scam] is so deep that they [the unregistered undertakers] pay the police and the people at the hospitals to convince families that they should use their services," she explained.

"Many people in Jamaica don't know much about the funeral industry, so if somebody sees a police officer telling them about this service, you are going to believe them," said Morgan.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com