ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - It was a half billion dollar scam. Six people now face prison time for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars meant for the dead. And it happened under the noses of regulators for decades.
The operators of NPS traveled the world on their spending spree. It was like they had blank checks that no one would catch them writing. It caught up with them today as they found out the years they'll spend in prison, but not before they enjoy the holidays.
I asked Brent Cassity, "Viewers want to know, did you think you were entitled to that money?" Cassity responded, "I have no comment."
That's all he had to say as he walked out of Federal Court with his family. He`ll serve five years in prison. His Dad, Doug, will serve 9 and a half.
They`re accused of defrauding people out of millions, while running a prearranged funeral services company called National Prearranged Services or NPS.
The exact number has changed in the days before today's sentencing. Today the judge said the convicts will repay more than $435 million.
Credit card statements from a civil court file show they spent lavishly at places like Barney`s in New York, where they charged $5,200 -- $6,600 charged at the Nantucket Boat Basin and 20 grand at the Four Seasons in Shanghai, China.
Records also show NPS contributed about one hundred thousand dollars to politicians.
Funeral Director Todd Mahn, of Mahn Funeral Homes said, "I 100% believe they had political influence."
Mahn attended Thursday's sentencing. He said he used to warn customers about NPS and it almost cost him a spot on the State Oversight Board. He said, "I ruffled some feathers with the Cassitysand they had hired a lobbyist by the name of Kent Gaines who was trying to block my confirmation to the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. I ultimately got confirmed, but uh some of my legislature friends said they`d never seen anything that serious before. They (the Cassitys) didn`t want me on that board and then a few months later we found out $600 million was missing.
Mahn said he asked to meet with Governor Nixon about the missing money, but he said the Governor declined. The next year, the Feds indicted the Cassitys and four others.
The courtroom was very emotional. An associate of the Cassitys cussed at a victim who`s lost millions, yelling at him to shut his (blankin') mouth.
Six people are going to prison and in every case, the judge allowed them to show up after the holidays.
Others include David Wulf, 61. He aced trial in August and was convicted by a jury on 18 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, and wire fraud affecting a financial institution. The Judge sentenced him today to 10 years in prison.
The remaining defendants pleaded guilty, including both Cassitys.
James Douglas Cassity, 67, received the longest sentence of 115 months imprisonment after admitting that he organized and led the fraudulent enterprise.
The former CEO of Lincoln Memorial Life Insurance Company, Randall K. Sutton, 68, received a sentence of 84 months imprisonment.
Brent Douglas Cassity, 46, a one-time officer of NPS, received a sentence of 60 months imprisonment.
Howard A. Wittner, 76, an attorney for the companies, received a sentence of 36 months imprisonment.
Former NPS President Sharon Nekol Province, 69, received a sentence of 18 months imprisonment.
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