Family accuses funeral home of charging more because family member died of COVID-19
One family is accusing a local funeral home of trying to swindle them after the death of their loved one.
Cynthia Molina says her family made arrangements with R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home for her grandmother Regalada Colon, who died from COVID-19 on Feb. 10.
Molina says her mother got a confusing call Monday, two days before the viewing.
"They canceled the viewing because her death certificate said COVID-related complications," said Molina.
According to the latest CDC guidelines, there is no known risk being in the same room with the body of a person who died from COVID-19 after it's been prepared.
According to state guidelines, funeral services are allowed as long as restrictions, like limited capacity, are followed.
Molina showed News 12 a receipt that said her family had already paid more than $3,000 for services at an agreed-upon rate.
But in the same call, Molina says her family was given an additional charge.
"They are saying a special casket is needed which is costing over $1,000," she said.
In a Yelp review, another customer reported a similar experience with Ortiz Funeral Home months ago.
"They tried to say that cedar caskets were a new health regulation," the review said.
Ortiz Funeral Home tells News 12 they only require a cedar casket when they are shipping the body to another country. Molina's grandmother is being buried at St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx.
"They're scamming -- they take your money and promise you something, then cancel the last minute and throw another bill at you," said Molina.
The state Health Department's Bureau of Funeral Directing told News 12 it is aware of this complaint, is monitoring the situation and that Ortiz Funeral Home is working to resolve the matter.
When News 12 called the funeral home, a representative who did not want to be identified on the record, was unaware of any changes to the agreed upon arrangements.
"Let me find out who called them because I don't know nothing about that ... I don't see change in the information," said the employee.
The viewing was held Wednesday night as planned.
The Bronx borough president's office said it is reporting the family's complaint to Consumer Affairs.
News 12 requested an official statement from the funeral home but has not heard back.