WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — An investigation into a former Wichita funeral home has ended with a costly judgment against the owner.

District Attorney Marc Bennett said his office got involved after a customer complained about Bethea’s Funeral and Cremations, 615 W. Maple. Bennett said the customer prepaid for funeral services that were never performed.

The District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division, with the assistance of the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts, investigated Robert J. Bethea Jr., who operated the business before it closed in 2021.

Investigators alleged that Bethea violated the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (KCPA) by:

  • Receiving funds from consumers for prepaid funeral services but failing to remit the funds as part of an insurance policy
  • Failing to provide specific services
  • Failing to issue refunds when the business closed

Bennett said Bethea denied violating the KCPA, but he did accept a consent judgment to settle the case.

Under the agreement, Bethea will pay more than $28,000 in restitution, $25,000 in civil penalties, and additional expenses and court costs. Judge Faith Maughan approved the consent judgment on Mar. 22.

In 2018, the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts entered into a consent agreement with Bethea in which it revoked his funeral director license. Bennett said that agreement also called for Bethea to deposit $31,000 into a trust account. He said the funds remaining from that trust should be released to reimburse impacted consumers not already made whole.

The Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts licenses and regulates funeral homes and funeral directors.

Another funeral business now occupies the old Bethea location at 615 W. Maple. Heavenly Gates Mortuary and its funeral director are listed on the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts as having active licenses.