Jury trial set for former funeral home director


The jury trial of a 57-year-old former Brownstown funeral home director has been set for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 4 in Jackson Circuit Court.

James D. Weesner, who operated Winklepleck-Weesner Funeral Home until August 2017, faces 25 Level 5 felony counts of wrongful disbursement of funeral trust funds and one Level 5 felony count of corrupt business influence, according to a news release from Sgt. Stephen Wheeles with the Indiana State Police Versailles Post.

Police said Weesner, who lives in Indianapolis, was charged in June and was summoned into court. His pretrial conference was set for 9 a.m. Aug. 7 by Jackson Circuit Court Judge Richard W. Poynter. Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant said Friday that Weesner was in such poor health that officials were unsure the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown could accommodate his medical needs.

The Indiana State Police Organized Crime and Corruption Unit investigation determined Weesner stole approximately $200,000 from 20 victims as director of Winklepleck-Weesner Funeral Home in Brownstown. That investigation began in August 2017 after the initial victim reported money missing from a pre-need trust.

Court records show Weesner took money without establishing the trusts between Nov. 10, 2004, and Nov. 22, 2016.

Police believe Weesner kept the money for personal use, Wheeles said.

An investigation into the initial complaint by the Office of the Attorney General determined Weesner had not had a certificate of authority to sell prepaid services since 2004.

The complaint that prompted the investigation was filed in February 2017 based on information the state had received from a woman who had entered into an Indiana Irrevocable Prepaid Funeral Plan Trust Agreement with Weesner for services in exchange for $14,315.15 on March 9, 2016.

Weesner cashed the woman’s check but did not place the funds into an irrevocable trust within 30 days of entering the agreement as required by state law.

After her husband’s own prepaid funeral Aug. 26, 2016, at Winklepleck-Weesner, the woman asked Weesner to transfer ownership of her funeral arrangements and trust agreements to a Seymour funeral home.

More than 45 days after her request — made Sept. 12, 2016 — the woman contacted the local bank where the agreement called for the trust to be placed and found a trust had not been established in her name, according to the complaint.

The 72-year-old funeral home ceased operations in August 2017, about the time the investigation began, after Weesner didn’t renew the annual state license at the end of 2016. He owned and operated the funeral home since the death of his father, James Weesner Sr., in October 2006.

Weesner’s attorney, James Paul Troiani of Indianapolis, recently transferred $28,235.88 to be held in a trust by the court for possible restitution once the case is resolved, Chalfant said.

The Indiana State Police Organized Crime and Corruption Unit was assisted by the Indiana State Police Versailles Post, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Brownstown Police Department, Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office and Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

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