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STATE BOARD FUNERAL DIRECTORS v. EDWARD CHARLES CIESLAK (04/09/76)

decided: April 9, 1976.

THE STATE BOARD OF FUNERAL DIRECTORS
v.
EDWARD CHARLES CIESLAK, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the State Board of Funeral Directors in case of In the Matter of the Suspension or Revocation of the License to Practice as a Funeral Director, No. 10554.

COUNSEL

Norbert A. Michalski, for appellant.

Alan M. Bredt, Deputy Attorney General, for appellee.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 316]

Edward Charles Cieslak (appellant) brings this appeal to contest the adjudication and order of the State Board of Funeral Directors (Board), dated September 15, 1975, which suspended, for 6 months, appellant's license to act as a funeral director. After hearings held on March 7, 8, and 20, 1973, the Board found appellant in violation of Sections 6 and 13(c) of the Funeral Director Law*fn1 (Act) and regulation 16.3 of the Rules and Regulations of the Board in effect prior to October 20, 1973 and guilty of conduct that would be the basis of a suspension under Section 11 of the Act.*fn2 Appellant asserts, first, that the Board's findings of fact are not

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 317]

    supported by substantial evidence. Alternatively, appellant insists that, even if supported by substantial evidence, the facts as found by the Board do not, as a matter of law, constitute violations of the Act. Finally, appellant alleges violations of his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in that there was almost a two and one-half year delay between the close of hearings and the Board's issuance of its adjudication and that membership of the Board had so changed in the interim that two of the four members of the Board who decided the case were not present at the hearings in 1973. Notwithstanding these objections, we must affirm.

The misconduct charges against appellant stemmed from certain alleged irregularities in financial arrangements during his tenure as manager of the C. C. Cieslak Funeral Home. The Board also found that appellant failed to display a widow's license as required by law after the death of the owner of the funeral home. Our review of the record and the extensive findings of fact made by the Board convinces us that there was substantial evidence to support findings that appellant failed to display the proper license in contravention of Section 6 of the Act; that appellant failed, in two instances, to place monies for prepaid funerals in escrow accounts, contrary to Section 13(c) of the Act; and that certain other financial irregularities existed in the conduct of the business.

We next turn to the question of whether these transgressions are grounds for the suspension of a license as a matter of law. Appellant argues that the Act was designed primarly to protect the public from health hazards and irreverent treatment of a deceased and that it was not designed to deal with financial matters. We disagree. Section 11 of the Act provides in part:

"The board, by a majority vote thereof, may refuse to grant, refuse to renew, suspend or revoke a license

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 318]

    of any applicant or licensee, whether originally granted under this act or under any prior ...


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