Documents show local funeral director fined, suspended after participating in forgery, operating in violation of law

July 29, 2023 | 12:09 am

Updated January 10, 2024 | 2:39 pm

Photo courtesy of Tanner+West

Local funeral director Nathan Morris is facing several punishments including a $24,000 fine and the suspension of his director’s licenses after admitting he “participated in the forgery of a signature on forms,” along with operating funeral homes and conducting funerals in violation of laws and regulation, according to documents obtained by Owensboro Times.

The punishments are part of an agreed order with the Kentucky Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors (KBEFD). All violations were administrative.

Morris was formerly employed by and a part owner of Morris Family Services. The company remains co-owned by Megan Everly Morris and John Horan. 

Megan Morris declined to comment, but Horan said Nathan Morris “has been released from his employment and is no longer associated with the company.” 

Horan said the move was made a couple of weeks ago.

“For the good of the company, our employees, and the communities we serve, we felt it was better to move forward without Nathan,” he said. “We dealt with it. We go forward focused on operating ethically, with integrity and excellence in everything that we do.”

Tommie Whobrey is also facing punishments, though less severe, from KBEFD for falsifying documents at Morris’ direction, according to documents obtained by OT. Whobrey is still listed on the Morris Family Services website as being a Managing Licensed Funeral Service Professional.

The violations were discovered during routine inspections earlier this year, and the findings were presented to the Kentucky Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. 

Documents show Morris and Whobrey were notified of the findings and appeared before the board during regular meetings (June 6 for Morris; May 9 for Whobrey). They each signed an agreed order to resolve the violations.

According to the agreed order, Morris admitted that “he participated in the forgery of a signature on forms to the board, that he had operated multiple funeral homes in violations of KRS and the administrative regulations, and conducting thirty-two (32) funerals in violation of the law.

(Editor’s note: In the original publication, the headline and first sentence of this story said Morris forged documents. Morris — who did not respond to requests for comment Friday — sent an email Saturday afternoon asking for the wording to be changed. His email said, in part: “I didn’t forge a document, ever. … I verbally permitted an employee to sign my name, as I was in Owensboro, KY, and they were in another city, for a document they needed signed immediately and to send off to update a locations’ licensing required by the Kentucky Board, as we had a number of staff rotating locations, positions, or leaving the company February of this year, making it an extremely challenging and stressful time for all to keep up with. There is nothing illegal of my verbally authorizing my signature.”)

The document shows Morris’ Funeral Director and Embalmers licenses will be suspended beginning August 9, 2023 and will not be reinstated until February 9, 2024. Morris also had to pay a $24,000 fine earlier this month. 

Part of the order states that Morris shall not be on the premises of any licensed Kentucky Funeral home except to attend a funeral as a mourner during the suspension of his licenses.

Documents show violations occurred at the following funeral homes: Caneyville Memorial Chapel, Leitchfield Memorial Funeral Chapel, A.F. Crow & Son Funeral Home, Butler Funeral Home, and The Hartford Memorial Chapel.

Per the agreement, Morris had to have all of those facilities compliant with all laws and regulations by June 15, 2023.  The licenses of Caneyville Memorial Chapel, Leitchfield Memorial Funeral Chapel, A.F. Crow & Son Funeral Home, and The Hartford Memorial Chapel were on probation until June 6, 2023, and any further violations will lead to the revocation of that facility’s license.

The agreed order shows that Whobrey will become manager of Leitchfield Memorial Funeral Chapel while Morris’ licenses are suspended. 

Documents show that Whobrey admitted that, at the direction of Morris, he falsified documents related to Caneyville Memorial Chapel that were sent to the Kentucky Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. According to the agreed order, the falsifications occurred to ensure that Caneyville Memorial Chapel appeared legal to KBEFD so it could continue to operate under the law.

The document shows Whobrey’s Funeral Director and Embalmers licenses were suspended for a period of 90 days beginning on May 16, 2023 and ending on August 8, 2023. He will still be required to pay his license renewal fee on time in July 2023, as his licenses will be automatically reinstated on August 8. 

Morris Family Services operates 11 funeral homes and crematories in the region:  A.F. Crow & Son Funeral Home; Butler Funeral Home; Caneyville Memorial Chapel; Goodwin Sievers (three locations); Holder Funeral Home; Huber Funeral Homes (two locations); Leitchfield Memorial Funeral Chapel; and The Hartford Memorial Chapel.

(Editor’s Note: The original version of this article said Morris Family Services formerly managed Haley-McGinnis Funeral Home & Crematory. Research shows multiple news articles and releases list the funeral home as previously being managed by MFS. An old version of the MFS website lists the funeral home as a location. Megan Morris, who declined multiple times to comment last week but sent a message via another employee Sunday morning, said the funeral home “was always independently run and never under the management of MFS.”)

Editor’s note: The original photo included with this story was removed via a legal copyright claim by Morris’ representative.

July 29, 2023 | 12:09 am

Share this Article

Other articles you may like