ON THE RECORD: Ionia funeral home worker allowed to withdraw embezzlement pleas


By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 1:45 pm on Tuesday, January 07, 2014

IONIA — A former funeral home employee who plead to embezzlement charges will be allowed to withdraw his pleas.

Marti Schrauben, 39, of Portland, was charged in the summer of 2012 by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office. The multiple charges accused Schrauben of embezzling nearly $500,000 from his own customers and insurance companies doing business with Schrauben-Lehman Funeral Home in Ionia from 2008 through 2011.

Marti Schrauben

The charges were a result of an investigation conducted by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office after a complaint was filed by the funeral home’s owner.

Schrauben allegedly created false death certificates and sent them to insurance companies in order to receive payment from funeral policies. Schrauben also allegedly accepted money for pre-paid funerals from customers of the funeral home and failed to place the money into escrow accounts, as required by state law. Instead, Schrauben allegedly embezzled the money for his own personal use.

Although Schrauben’s name is associated with the funeral home, he had previously sold all his interest in the company and was working as an employee at the time the alleged crimes took place.

A total of 27 charges against Schrauben were filed, including

• One count of criminal enterprises – racketeering proceeds, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine;

• One count of conducting criminal enterprises, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine;

• One count of maintaining criminal enterprises, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine;

• Two counts of embezzlement, $100,000 or more, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $50,000 or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater;

• One count of embezzlement, $50,000 – $100,000, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine up to $25,000 or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater.

• Five counts of embezzlement, $1,000 – $20,000, a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine;

• Eight counts of uttering and publishing, a felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison;

• Four counts of forgery, a felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison;

• Four counts of insurance fraud, a felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison and a $50,000 fine;

Schrauben pleaded guilty and no contest to some of the charges earlier this year as part of a plea agreement. The plea agreement would have required Schrauben to pay restitution and serve probation. In return Schrauben would serve no more than one year in the Ionia County Jail.

However, Ionia County’s 8th Judicial Circuit Court Judge David Hoort thought the crimes deserved more than one year in jail.

“The parties’ sentence agreement was for jail, but with the guidelines allowing for a prison sentence, the crimes committed justified a prison sentence,” Hoort told The Daily News. “Even with his lack of any criminal history, jail and probation just didn’t seem to be a sufficient response.”

As a result of Hoort not wanting to abide by the plea agreement, Schrauben was allowed to withdraw his pleas. The case will head to trial unless another agreement is reached.

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