No new trial for ex-funeral director convicted of insurance thefts

Marti Schrauben. (July 2012 file photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The state Court of Appeals has ruled a funeral home director who cashed in people’s life insurance before they died will not get a new trial.

In a split ruling, a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Marti Schrauben’s convictions and sentence will stand, and he will not get a new trial.

Schrauben was convicted to eight counts of uttering and publishing, four counts of a fraudulent insurance act. He was sentenced to 16 months to four years in prison.

A jury also convicted Schrauben of one of conducting a criminal enterprise, one count of receiving the proceeds of a criminal enterprise and eight counts of embezzlement. Later a judge granted his attorney’s motion for a directed verdict, tossing out those convictions.

Schrauben is a former co-owner of an Ionia funeral home and worked there after selling his shares to begin other businesses in the Portland area.

Investigators say he stole about $500,000 from prepaid funeral accounts and by making fake death certificates to cash in people’s insurance policies. It fell apart when a customer passed away a year after the insurance policy was cashed out.

According to court documents, Schrauben says his former partner, Michael Lehman, took part in the fraud as a way of paying Schrauben. In its ruling, the Court of Appeals found Lehman may have committed perjury at Schraben’s trial and may have been more involved in the scheme.

The prosecutors didn’t knowingly present the perjured testimony and there was other evidence to sustain the convictions.

One of the three Court of Appeals judges disagreed, in part, saying she would send the case back for a new trial.

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