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Hawaii Funeral Home Owner Arrested

March 21, 2002

HONOLULU (AP) _ A funeral home owner was arrested Wednesday for allegedly burying people in body bags instead of caskets, officials said.

Police said the owner has been under investigation for several months on allegations that Memorial Mortuary in Hilo had been cheating customers who had paid for caskets and was operating without a license.

Owner Robert Diego, his wife, Momi Diego and daughter, Bobbie Jean Diego, were all taken into custody, police said. Charges were pending.

Diego, 59, denied the allegation in an interview with The Associated Press last month, shortly after investigators raided the mortuary office and seized files.

His attorney, Brenda Carreira, said then that the accusations were ``false, preposterous and absurd.″ She declined to discuss the allegations Wednesday night, saying she had not received all the arrest information.

State officials received at least three reports that Memorial Mortuary did not bury corpses in the caskets family members had purchased.

Two families said in recent court affidavits that when they disinterred relatives for reburial in another cemetery in 1982 and 1983, the bodies were found in bags without the caskets or vaults that had been purchased from Memorial Mortuary.

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