OAKLAND — The Maryland State Board of Morticians has suspended the operating license of the Brad Stewart Funeral Home and prohibited the continuing operation of the business.

The action was taken recently by the board in connection with alleged failure of the funeral home to deposit into escrow accounts nearly $20,000 paid by clients for pre-need funeral arrangements.

The emergency action taken by the board July 28 prohibits Bradley A. Stewart to practice mortuary science in Maryland and ordered Stewart to “immediately return his wall certificate and wallet licenses to the board.”

The action was taken following a detailed investigation that included review of contract information, bank records and various other information relating to the victims’ complaints.

The victims have reportedly asked for their money to be returned with interest but no money had been returned to the victims as of Friday, according to the board.

Stewart called the board’s action “improper, arbitrary and capricious, devoid of due process and unjust.”

“The board voted to continue the summary suspension” during a show-cause hearing conducted by the panel Wednesday at the board office in Baltimore, according to Grant Gerber, board counsel and assistant attorney general of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

“I have instructed our attorneys both here in Oakland and Baltimore to take appropriate legal measures to rectify the situation,” Stewart said. “Actions have been received at the county and state levels and I can assure you that we are entirely committed to fighting the improper and unjust summary action.”

The investigation that led to the license suspension began late last year and is continuing.

Stewart was initially licensed to practice mortuary science in Maryland on May 1, 1971.

“This board needs to protect the citizens of Maryland. It’s unfortunate that there are individuals in the mortuary profession that might give the impression that all of us are not trustworthy,” said Hari Close, president of the 11-member Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors. Comprised of six practitioners and five consumers, the board oversees approximately 400 funeral homes in the state.

“We are very concerned that someone was treated unfairly and we would like to see this matter resolved as soon as possible,” he said.

Close also said Friday the board has received calls from the public indicating that the Stewart Funeral Home is continuing to operate despite suspension of the operating license.

“This causes us very much concern. To operate without a license is defrauding the public,” said Close.

Close said investigators with the board and the Maryland Attorney General’s Office are investigating these reports.

Stewart said since July 28, his funeral home has been referring families to the Fredlock Funeral Home in Piedmont, W.Va., and will continue to do so. “I will continue to be available as a consultant to safeguard and advise the interests of any and all of our friends and families,” he said.

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