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D.C. Reaches $280K Settlement with Funeral Home in Fraud Case

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced Friday a settlement with Austin Royster Funeral Home and Chief Operating Officer Jamelle Royster, requiring them to pay $280,000 to more than 60 customers for unmet or overpriced services.

In 2017, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed suit against the Brightwood funeral home and Royster for misleading seniors, disabled individuals and grieving families, overcharging for funeral services, charging for services it did not provide and doing business without the proper licenses.

The settlement resolved the OAG’s suit, requiring the funeral home and Royster to pay $20,000 in penalties to the District. It also permanently terminates the funeral home operation and blocks Royster from doing related business in the city.

Racine also introduced the Funeral Services Consumer Protection Amendment Act of 2019 in the D.C. Council to strengthen customer protections for District residents.

“This settlement brings closure and monetary relief to families that Austin Royster funeral home misled while they were grieving for their loved ones,” Racine said. “The Office of the Attorney General fights hard to protect District consumers and will bring enforcement actions against funeral homes or other businesses that take advantage of D.C. residents.”

Austin Royster, located on Kennedy Street NW, operated from the mid-1990s until it closed in December 2017.

In D.C., funeral businesses are licensed and regulated by the city government.

In November 2017, Racine filed a lawsuit against Austin Royster and won a temporary restraining order against the funeral home after discovering it was operating without proper licenses and was engaged in what the OAG called deceptive and potentially unlawful practices.

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