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CFO Sink Suspends Haines City Funeral Director’s License for Inappropriate Disposing of Remains

6/18/2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 18, 2009
CONTACT: Kyra Jennings or Kevin Cate (850) 413-2842
 
CFO SINK SUSPENDS HAINES CITY FUNERAL DIRECTOR’S LICENSE FOR INAPPROPRIATE DISPOSING OF REMAINS
 
TALLAHASSEE—Florida CFO Alex Sink, who oversees Florida’s Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services, has ordered the emergency suspension of the license of a Haines City funeral home director accused of inappropriately disposing of remains. 
 
Claude Edward Holmes Jr., 47, was licensed as a funeral director in Florida since 1997 and serves as a funeral director and embalmer at Holmes Funeral Directors in Haines City.  He was arrested late Monday on charges related to the incident. 
 
“The Department holds its licensees to the highest standards,” said CFO Sink. “Funeral directors and embalmers are called upon to provide their services to citizens at a time when they are most vulnerable—following the death of a loved one.”
 
On Monday, June 15, a Polk County maintenance crew working at Oakland Cemetery in Haines City discovered a bag containing improperly disposed of human remains partially-buried among gravesites.  A member of the crew reported the finding to law enforcement authorities. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene and confirmed that the bag contained human remains.   
 
Investigation revealed that the organs were those of a Polk County man who had drowned.  The county medical examiner had conducted an autopsy, in which internal organs are routinely removed and examined for evidence of foul play, then placed back in the body.  The body and internal organs were released to Holmes after the autopsy. 
 
Industry embalming standards provide that in such cases the viscera, or internal organs, be preserved and re-inserted in the body for burial.  Holmes instead buried the internal organs in a shallow hole dug in a different cemetery from where the body was buried.
 
The emergency order immediately suspends Holmes’ license as a funeral director and embalmer. An administrative complaint seeking final disciplinary action against Holmes will be issued upon approval of the Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services’ probable cause panel, to be convened at the earliest possible date pursuant to Section 497.153, Florida Statutes.
 
The Department of Financial Services was given authority over licensees of the Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services in 2005.  This is the first record of a complaint the Division has regarding Holmes.  For more information about the Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services, log on to http://www.myfloridacfo.com/FuneralCemetery/fc_board_schedule.htm.