Thursday, January 6, 2005
Carmel on the Case: Fake Funeral Director
More on a 7-News investigation involving a funeral director sentenced for operating without a license. This after he's accused of interrupting a funeral service to demand payment from a family.
Sixty-Seven Year Old Bernard Poitier was in the middle of his trial when he decided to take a plea rather than take a chance on what a jury might decide.
Alice Newkirk and her sister Sylvia Simmons testified that Poiter had handled the funeral of their sister Lisa Newkirk.
"He greeted us and everything and then we started talking about the different caskets and plots and things like that."
Seven News investigated the Newkirk Funeral. Poitier, who owns a Miami funeral home, stopped the services as mourners were leaving the church to go to the cemetery.
With the body in the herse, Poitier demanded a different payment arrangement then the original agreement with the family.
"Everybody was in tears. I was so emotional distraught you know. And my sister, everybody was crying because we couldn't believe this was happening."
Back in 2002 poitier was not willing to talk about the fact that his license as a funeral director had been revoked.
Poiter, "I don't know nothing about that. I don't think that's the conversation here."
According to state records, poitier was stripped of his license two years before the Newkirk funeral. He had refused to release a body, yelled at the next of kin and threw a state inspector off the property. Now, facing a maximum of 60 days in jail and state investigator Bill Tejeda poised to testify against him, Poitier agreed to enter a plea of no contest to the charge of acting as a funeral director without a license.
"By pleading no contest, poiter saves face. He doesn't admit guilt. However, the no contest plea has essentially the same legal impact as a guilty plea."
Judge Luise Krieger Martin, "You shall not participate in any way shape or firm as a funeral director."
Judge Luise Krieger Martin made it clear at sentencing Poitier had better not cross the line between funeral home owner and funeral director. He will now spend the next six months on house arrest and will also spend 6 months on probation. Lisa Newkirk's family says she can now rest in peace.
"We're very relieved, very glad it turned out the way It did because we know he was wrong."
He may have laughed a long time ago, but today he didn't laugh at all so we're very pleased.
For more information, or if you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-327-CLUE
Or In Broward at 954-921-CLUE