STREATOR — William “B.J.” Elias, who operated Elias Funeral Home in Streator, was charged with 14 felony counts accusing him of misusing pre-need funeral funds.
Elias, 51, whose license was previously suspended, turned himself in to the Streator Police Department Jan. 24 on an arrest warrant, according to a press release.
The charges arise from Elias allegedly misusing pre-need funeral funds paid by families before their loved ones passed.
The Illinois State Comptroller’s Office said in a Jan. 24 press release that Elias stole $136,112 in pre-need funeral funds from 31 victims between 2003 and 2019.
“Funeral directors who violate the public’s trust must be held accountable,” said Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza. “I appreciate the priority LaSalle County authorities placed on this investigation, and I look forward to Elias’ victims receiving prompt justice.”
Seven counts are for violating the Illinois Funeral Funds Act; four for theft with deceptive intent less than $10,000 and three for theft with deceptive intent on a senior citizen amounting to more than $5,000, according to court documents.
Elias posted $7,500 bail and was released from custody and will have to appear in court at a later date.
A June Illinois comptroller’s order said Elias submitted false annual reports to cover up the theft.
His pre-need license was revoked in February and his funeral director’s license was revoked in October.
In an additional matter, a judgment was awarded Sept. 10 to Streator Memorial Park, which operates Hillcrest Memorial Park cemetery, for $10,450. The plaintiff said the Elias Funeral Home owed money for traditional and cremation grave openings dating back to April 2012. They said the funeral home made sporadic payments, but still had an outstanding balance.
Court documents said Elias Funeral Home was no longer in operation, listing B.J. and Jason Elias in the suit.
Elias was scheduled to appear in court Sept. 10 on the matter, but he did not attend. The judge awarded the amount to Streator Memorial Park by default.