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The Unlicensed Practice of Cremation, Plus A Crime of Larceny

As an ex-funeral director at O'Donnell & Mulry Funeral Home, Joseph O'Donnell, is no stranger to the funeral service practice. With several years of service within the funeral industry at O'Donnell & Mulry, doing business in Dorchester, MA,  former clients have described him as at best "consoling and personable." Ironically, the once widely respected practitioner, was investigated by Team 5 of the WCBV News station and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently due to his engagement in the unauthorized practice of cremation and other questionable funeral services provided. The investigation revealed O'Donnell handled several remains to cremate without a license from the state for several years. It is believed that O'Donnell failed to renew his license when it lapsed. 

Eileen Collins, a trusting customer of the O'Donnell & Mulry Funeral Home stated, "[l]ife and death are two major important things and there shouldn't be short cuts. I just can't get a deep breath over it, you know?"  Even more disturbing is the fact that several other clients have come forward contending they pre-paid O'Donnell for funeral services, but was shammed by the former director when he conjointly went out of business. After several weeks in hideaway, O'Donnell was arrested this past Friday. He is charged with two counts of larceny. 

Sadly, in addition to dealing with the claims against O'Donnell, the families that reported his behavior and the funeral home, now have to the face the possibility that the cremated remains of their loved ones may not be legal. It also seems questionable whether the remains cremated by O'Donnell for the families are actually the remains of the families' loved ones. No one (including members of the State Board and State Medical Examiners Office) seems to know why there was such oversight in checking the status of O'Donnell's license after it expired. However, one thing is certain: several steps should be taken by the relevant state agencies to reform current policies in place so that these issues do not recur in the future. 

Ashley White


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