Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced that a 63-year-old Harry Carter III, owner of Carter Funeral Home in the South Shore area, was arrested Sunday at his home for working as a funeral director without a license.
The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation revoked Carter’s funeral director license on Feb. 23 for unlicensed practice, unprofessional conduct, gross malpractice or untrustworthiness; obtaining or attempting to obtain business by fraud or misrepresentation; aiding or assisting another in violation of the Funeral Directors and Embalmers Licensing Code; failure to maintain a properly equipped preparation room; and having a pattern of practice or behavior demonstrating incapacity or incompetence to practice.
Cook County Sheriff’s police learned from Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation that Carter continued to offer funeral director services even though he did not have a valid license. A south suburban crematory notified the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation after Carter dropped off a body for cremation there in February and asked funeral directors there to sign that client’s death certificate as well as that of four others who had already been buried.
At that time, Carter’s license was suspended by the state.
On Monday, March 4 — after Carter’s license had been revoked — he dropped off another body for cremation and asked for that client’s death certificate to be signed by the funeral directors there.
Carter owned and operated the Carter Funeral Chapel at 2100 E. 75th St. In 2012, the chapel shut down after the funeral home was found to be in subpar conditions, which included a lack of heat and electricity and the improper care of human remains.
Carter said at a press conference he called in February 2012 after news of conditions at his funeral home broke, that he was the victim of a disgruntled employee. Reportedly, unburied bodies were on the premises – with no electricity service.
Carter and other workers at the funeral home said then that the remains were being adequately preserved and that the reason they were even there was due to doctors not signing death certificates in a timely fashion. The funeral director explained that bodies could not be cremated without proper signoff from doctors, which he said was often slow and difficult to secure.
He also explained a year ago that he was working with ComEd to pay down his electrical bill to get the funeral home’s services restored.
During a recent investigation, sheriff’s police detectives learned that Carter continued to embalm clients at the funeral chapel, despite being in violation of city code. Funeral services, however, were held at local churches. He told families he could not hold them at his chapel because it was being remodeled.
Carter has been charged with two counts of funeral directing without a license, one count for each body he dropped off at the crematory. The charges are a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of fines and up to a year in jail, if convicted.
Carter has posted $1,000 bail. His next court date is scheduled for March 27 at the Bridgeview Courthouse.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Department contributed to this report