Reporting Bob Roberts
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Five days after his funeral home was shut down for lack of heat or power, a South Shore mortician said he’s not about to go out of business.
Harry Carter said he expects to have the lights and heat back on, and be able to reopen his Carter Funeral Chapels, at 2100 E. 75th St., within a week.
City inspectors ordered nine bodies awaiting burial in the mortuary transferred by 6 p.m. Tuesday, and said he complied with the order.
He said family members who came to the funeral home on Monday concerned were all satisfied after seeing the embalmed bodies.
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“If one — not two or three — but one had been in half the state that they said, I would have been in jail right now, on a $250,000 bond, instead of standing in front of my funeral home,” he said.
Asked about the unpaid $50,000 ComEd power bill that resulted in power being shut off, he acknowledged it and said, “Who hasn’t had trouble paying bills?”
He said he is discussing reconnection using an alternative power supplier.
“Carter Funeral Chapels is still a viable entity,” he said. “We do get first calls about new business. We can go to the home, conduct a service in another chapel or location such as a church legally, and we’re still in business.”
Carter, family members and employees said the funeral home had taken on many families over the years as clients even though they could not afford to pay, and said it was not uncommon for hats to be passed at funerals to help defray the expenses. Still, he said, it is one of the reasons he has been in arrears on some of his bills on and off over the past decade.
Carter reserved most of his anger for the doctors, whom he said have been taking an average of eight days to sign death certificates. He claimed that no law specifies how quickly doctors must sign such certificates, which he said he must have before he can release a body for burial.
State records indicate that Carter’s license as a funeral director and embalmer has been suspended since 2008. He is still allowed to own a funeral home and hire someone with a license to fill those jobs. Carter filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2009.
He has also been cited by the Federal Trade Commission.