A Yonkers funeral director should not be allowed to use bankruptcy to get out of paying a $585,000 debt, an insurance company claims, because he embezzled from a former employer by performing off-the-books funeral services.
National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh sued Douglas A. Familia on May 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains.
Familia had assisted former funeral director Donald Cranston of Haverstraw in performing unauthorized funeral services, according to the complaint, at T.J. McGowan Sons Funeral Home in Garnerville. They did not record the services or contracts, but kept the payments.
T.J. McGowan Sons discovered the diversions in 2013, and National Union, its insurer, paid a claim for $685,000.
Cranston was indicted in 2015, pleaded guilty to grand larceny, was sentenced to probation for five years and paid $100,000 in restitution to National Union.
Last year, the insurance company sued Cranston and Familia for the remaining $585,000, in Supreme Court, Manhattan. Both men, according to the complaint, are equally liable for the debt.
Familia, the bankruptcy complaint states, has “conceded that he shared in no less than $40,000 of the $685,000 misappropriated from the fraudulent scheme.”
National Union states that it was discussing a settlement with Familia, but talks ended when he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection Jan. 30, automatically stopping the lawsuit.
Familia declared $95,870 in assets and $639,387 in liabilities. He acknowledged the $585,000 claim by National Union, but characterized the debt as disputed.
He is still a licensed funeral director, according to the bankruptcy petition, and works for a Forest Hills funeral home and owns Douglas A. Familia Funeral Services Inc. in Yonkers.
Last year, he made $126,000.
National Union argues that the $585,000 debt should not be canceled because it resulted from fraud, defalcation, larceny and embezzlement. The insurer is asking for a money judgment or permission to resume the civil court lawsuit.
“As this matter is in litigation, it does not seem appropriate to comment,” Familia’s attorney, Nathan Horowitz of White Plains, said in an email.
National Union is represented by Manhattan attorney Scott A. Levin.