WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) – A Region 8 man faces charges after state and county investigators say he stole thousands of dollars from a local funeral home.
On Friday, Lawrence County sheriff's deputies arrested Darrin "Pinky" Pinkston of Mammoth Spring on charges of forgery and theft of property.
According to Sheriff Jody Dotson, the arrest stems from an "extensive investigation" by his department and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Arkansas State Police.
Investigators discovered large amounts of money was missing from Higginbotham Funeral Home where Pinkston worked, Dotson said.
Officers reportedly discovered several checks were missing.
Dotson said officers also found contracts sold for cash, but there were no records of the transactions. Investigators, however, reportedly spoke with clients who had receipts showing they had purchased contracts with cash at a discounted rate, Dotson said.
Detectives "turned up approximately $81,000 in losses," the sheriff said.
The evidence was submitted to a judge who found probable cause to issue an arrest warrant.
Pinkston was arrested without incident and taken to the Lawrence County Jail to await a bond hearing.
Management with Cox-Fears Funeral home, which took over Higginbotham Funeral Home, said they will work with clients who show proof of a purchase with a receipt.
"To my knowledge the new funeral home says they will honor those policies," said Dotson.
According to the Arkansas State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, Pinkston was never a licensed funeral director.
During a 2012 board meeting, it was reported that Mary Jo Higginbotham, the owner of Higgingbotham Funeral Home, allowed Pinkston "to make funeral arrangements with family members and to embalm dead human bodies."
The board also found that Higginbotham allowed Seth Simpson, a handyman at the business, "to act as an embalmer."
Higginbotham was fined $1,000 and her business's license was placed on five-year probation.
Pinkston was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. Simpson was fined $1,000.
To read the state board's findings of facts, click here.