While calling her a "thief," a judge spared a prominent former Cleveland funeral director of a prison sentence in a funeral fraud case Thursday.
More than a year after she was exposed by WOIO Chief Investigator Carl Monday, Patricia Wills received probation and community service for fleecing one of her customers at The House of Wills out of more than $12,000.
The House of Wills was a well-known family business, serving the inner city for more than 100 years before falling on hard times. Wills blamed the financial difficulties, in part, for her criminal act.
The case involves a woman named Katherine Moore. As Monday reported earlier, the elderly woman had purchased a pre-paid funeral from Wills before entering a nursing home more than a decade ago.
But when the family went looking for the check after Moore's death last year, they discovered the check had been cashed two years prior.
"At the end of the day, she robbed my mom and robbed my family," son Anthony Moore told the court.
Wills did apologize. Facing the family in the back of the courtroom, she told them, "there's nothing I can do to undo the harm. I apologize."
Judge Steven Gaul said he decided against prison time because Wills had no criminal history. He also noted the Wills family's long service to the community.
But he added, "At the end of the day, I don't mean to be disrespectful. you're still a thief."
Before sentencing, Wills told Carl Monday that the Moore family was the only one who didn't get their money. But Monday and his team learned the Ohio Department of Insurance is investigating 15 other complaints against Wills Funeral Home, which closed suddenly a few years back.