SUBJECT: Funeral Counselor Arrested on New Charges as Additional Victims Identified
RELEASE NUMBER: 2019-NR-049
CONTACT: Lt. Doug Daza / Major Noah Robinson
AUTHORITY: Sheriff Dave Wedding
The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Caroline Marie Rich on additional charges stemming from a fraud and theft investigation into her activities as a family services counselor at Alexander Funeral Homes. Rich had already been charged in connection with defrauding a grieving family out of money meant to pay for funeral costs for their deceased child.
Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office have charged Rich with eight additional felonies and one misdemeanor as part of a continuing investigation into Rich’s activities while employed with Alexander. Three additional families have been identified as victims of Rich’s efforts to steal money from clients trying to make funeral/burial arrangements with Alexander’s.
Rich was previously arrested on September 11th and charged with a number of felonies after allegedly taking over $18,000.00 from the family of a child who died as a result of being left in a hot car. The money had been raised through a GoFundMe account and also included money from the grieving family. Rich took the money into her personal accounts and Alexander was never paid. In addition to being arrested, Rich was terminated and Alexander has reimbursed the family for any loss incurred. Prior to her arrest this evening, Rich was out on a $500 cash bond for three counts of Forgery, three counts of Theft and three Counts of Counterfeiting, all Level 6 felonies.
The Sheriff’s Office has continued their investigation of Rich with the assistance of Alexander employees and their parent company, Service Corporation International (SCI). Three additional families have been identified that had been taken advantage of and defrauded by Rich. These incidents all occurred this year.
In the first incident, Rich worked with a family to pre-plan a funeral for a couple who had utilized Alexander for the funerals of other family members. This couple paid a total of $8,832.22 towards what they believed to be goods and services related to their funeral. These payments were made to Rich’s personal PayPal account and they were provided with fraudulent invoices and receipts. Alexander was never paid and Rich apparently kept the money.
The second incident was similar in that a client wished to pre-plan services for herself and her mother and also paid for a marker for her deceased brother. Again, the client paid money, a total of $9,223.00, to Rich’s PayPal account to cover the cost. And again, Alexander was never actually paid and Rich apparently kept the money.
In the final instance, Rich advised a client to pay her directly, via check, for memory books of her deceased husband. Rich told the client that she would in turn order the books herself, using her employee discount. Rich never ordered the books and apparently kept the money.
The investigation into Rich’s activities is continuing. The Sheriff’s Office believes it is likely more victims will be identified. Alexander Funeral Homes has been working diligently with the Sheriff’s Office to identify any additional theft by Rich.
Sheriff Dave Wedding stated, “I strongly urge anyone who has made arrangements with Rich to look over their paperwork and contact Alexander if they believe any impropriety has occurred. We would particularly ask that anyone who has pre-planned funeral arrangements through Rich make contact, as years could pass before these services would be needed and a fraud subsequently discovered.” Sheriff Wedding added, “The staff at Alexander could not have been more helpful during this investigation. We are sincerely grateful for their cooperation and willingness to see that every victim is identified.”
Rich was arrested Wednesday evening without incident and taken to the Vanderburgh County Jail. She will be held without bond until making a court appearance.
Caroline Marie Rich (pictured above), 37, of Evansville. Identity Deception as a Level 6 Felony (3 counts), Forgery Level as a Level 6 Felony (2 counts), Theft as a Level 6 Felony (2 counts) and Theft as a Class A Misdemeanor.
Presumption of Innocence Notice: The fact that a person has been arrested or charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.