Former mortuary owner sentenced to 30 days in jail, will pay more than $50,000 for theft

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The former owner of the Honolulu Mortuary and Casket Company was sentenced Tuesday.

Back in October, Claus Hansen pleaded guilty to seven counts of felony theft for failing to distribute death benefits to family members.

He’ll serve 30 days in jail, pay $50,000 to the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund plus other fees, and perform 300 hours of community service.

Hansen must also write letters of apology to the 161 individuals affected.

“I respectfully accept the responsibility for these actions that I’ve done and I’d like to take this time to express my heartfelt apology to the court and to my customers for not processing refunds in a timely manner,” he said in court Tuesday. “I’d also like to apologize to my staff and most of all to my family for the stress and embarrassment my actions have cost them. I can assure the court that this will never, ever happen again.”

From 2009 to 2013, the State Medicaid program paid survivors as much as $800 in death benefits to help defray the costs of funeral services.

According to Deputy Attorney General Michael Parrish, “Customers were promised refunds once the State Medicaid program paid benefits to Hansen. Instead, Hansen instructed his employees not to contact the survivors when the money came in or to ignore them if they didn’t pester the mortuary for their promised refund.”

One of Hansen’s employees reported these actions to the Medicaid program, which confirmed the payments. Officials said Hansen’s bank statements indicated he failed to pay as many as 161 beneficiaries totaling more than $90,000 as of May 2013.

Hansen has already paid more than $85,000 in restitution, including more than $6,900 to the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services Funeral Assistance Program, officials said.

Hansen sold the company in November.

He is married to Wake Up 2day anchor Diane Ako.

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