Crematorium owner charged with improper disposal of bodies
WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit crematorium owner who had already lost his mortuary science and mortuary science establishment licenses has been charged with improper disposal of bodies.
O’Neil Swanson was arraigned Monday in Washtenaw County district court, the Michigan Attorney General’s office said Tuesday.
A cease and desist order was issued in June against Tri-County Cremation Services in Ypsilanti Township. Swanson was listed as an owner, according to the state.
Authorities began investigating the company after the state received an anonymous complaint of heavy smoke issuing from the chimney, bodies stored improperly while awaiting cremation, and bodily fluids leaking onto the facility’s floor.
The company was accused of operating a crematory without a registration under the Cemetery Regulation Act, according Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
His Swanson Funeral Home in Flint was closed in 2017 after maggots were found in a garage where unrefrigerated bodies were being stored. Officials later determined prepaid funeral contracts were sold without a proper license.
Swanson, of West Bloomfield, pleaded no contest to two felonies in 2019. A no-contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such at sentencing.
His mortuary science and mortuary science establishment licenses were revoked, meaning he is ineligible to hold a controlling interest in a cemetery or crematory, according to Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
“Mr. Swanson is completely innocent of the charge. No crime has been committed,” said Klint Kesto, his attorney. “The attorney general is coming after him and they didn’t have the accurate facts and look at the actual law.”
Kesto also said the state licensing agency also is “making a point to go after this guy, ruin his reputation and his name, and take his livelihood.”
Swanson faces up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine in connection with the Ypsilanti Township case.
He was released on a personal bond. An Oct. 14 probable cause conference has been scheduled.