Niles funeral director sentenced for theft

Robert McDermott

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – The former director of a Niles funeral home who pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in pre-paid funeral money was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday morning in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Robert McDermott, who previously owned McDermott Funeral Home, pleaded guilty last month to stealing $280,000 in pre-paid funeral money. In addition to his three-year prison term, he also was ordered to pay $172,000 in restitution to his victims and serve five years of probation once he is released.

McDermott apologized for what happened and said he had no intent to harm anyone. He also continued to blame others for his mistakes.

“I didn’t watch my office. I had girls watch my office. I didn’t pay attention to it and lost control of everything,” McDermott said.

Several victims testified against McDermott during his sentencing, saying he took advantage of them in their time of need.

“He ain’t sorry about nothing. I will tell you one thing about him, I found out about him and so did everybody else that deal with him, he’s a habitual liar is what he is,” said Charles Gibson, who was one of the people who had money stolen by McDermott.

“We trusted him. He should fry. I have no sympathy. I can’t believe he did this,” said Elaine Palumbo, the daughter of one of McDermott’s victims.

“Hopefully he has learned his lesson. He has been an embarrassment to his profession and to his family and we hope he can move on and these victims can get some sort of restitution and move on with their lives as well,” said Niles Police Capt. Ken Criswell, who headed the investigation.

A spokesperson for the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors also testified, saying McDermott and other like him have hurt the entire industry.

“Because many people choose not to pre-plan or pre-pay their funerals and that is a very integral part of how it keeps the industry working,” said Vanessa Niekamp, executive director of the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.

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