MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Two Arizona funeral directors have lost their licenses following allegations that they treated the deceased like cats and dogs at the pound.

A state review board determined that the Saguaro Valley Cremation Services in Mesa mishandled a number of bodies.

[WATCH: Mesa crematory accused of mishandling bodies]

According to court and records, the business was caught stacking bodies on top of each other and leaving multiple bodies outside their refrigeration unit.

"It's upsetting," said Mesa resident Jennifer Wilkerson. "Kind of horrifying, for sure. That's awful."

The Arizona Funeral Board started an investigation shortly after the alleged incidents came to light back in 2015, then revoked two funeral directors' licenses, and the license of a third employee.

But those penalties just took effect after a lengthy court fight came to an end.

Arizona Funeral Board executive director Judy Stapley said it was important to make sure this business was held accountable.

"You want to know that your loved one is being cared for," said Stapley. "You don't want to have to wonder what's going on when you leave, or what's going on behind the doors that you're not invited in to. You want to know your loved one is being cared for."

But making sure the public is protected is no guarantee.

The business manager of Saguaro Valley, Frank Lambert, is now running Family Burial and Cremation, a few miles away.

Lambert had his funeral director's license revoked back in 2011, following similar allegations.

"What would you do if it was your family member?" asked Eddie Micheals, of Mesa. "How would you be? Luckily it wasn't one of mine."

Lambert's attorney Charles Buri said his client believes he was treated unfairly.

Saguaro Valley Cremation Services has also had its business license suspended for 30 days and will also be on probation for a year.

It will also require a state monitor to ensure all laws and protocols are being followed.

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.




Jason Barry is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports highlighting local restaurants with major health code violations.

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(4) comments


Ifs unfortunate but the comments are true about the person complaining and the funeral board. The funeral board is made up of consumers and funeral workers. If you can imagine your competitors can punish you without regard for anything plausible. So just think Walmart could penalize Target or Fry’s because they can. It’s an unfair and unethical practice. The second part is also true ALL funeral homes stack bodies at one point or another in time. It’s what I would say standard practice fir moving around several deceased from place to the place. I have personally witnessed vans full of casketed remain stack 3 high and 2 wide being taken to the county cemetery for a supposed proper burial. So some should challenge news 15 do a unbiased report about the matter. If they like help let me know.


This may not have been right but he’s not the only one that does that. I have been in the funeral business for almost 30 years and in Maricopa county I have never seen a funeral home not stack bodies. It’s the truth and if someone says they don’t then they lie also. The person who turned them in did it out if retaliation for them not allowing him to use their license for his business. Say what you will but it’s a fact and all the nay sayers are only trying to cover themselves up.


The sad truth of the matter is all funeral homes stack bodies. If a funeral home claims they don’t then not only do they stack they also lie. The person that turned them in to the board is in fact the worst body stacker and rules violator in the state. The person who turned the in with the name Mario F is indeed the worst of the worst. The funeral homes in owned are now closed and out of business. The reason for turning them in is because they would not let him use their license for his business to stay open, so what a scum bag. The Az board is the text book description of corrupt.


Wow! This story is horrifying! He actually filled a van full with rotting bodies and drove it home because he didn't know where to put them. How about saying I cant take any at this time? This guy is a sale out and chose money over dignity, respect and honor.

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