Mattapan man charged with stealing funeral funds

A Mattapan man accused of working without a license as a funeral director has been charged with spending money earmarked for clients’ funeral expenses for his own purposes, the Suffolk district attorney’s office said today.

Joseph O’Donnell, 55, pleaded not guilty today in Dorchester Municipal Court to two counts of larceny over $250. He is being held on $10,000 cash bail, and will be required to undergo GPS monitoring and and abide by a curfew should he post it, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

The investigation began earlier this year after the Division of Professional Licensure sent the district attorney’s office a referral that O’Donnell had been operating a funeral home on Neponset Avenue in Dorchester without a license, the statement said.

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Prosecutors said that a 72-year-old couple, who had paid O’Donnell more than $12,000 in 2011 for two future funerals, tried contacting O’Donnell to apply one of their payments to services for another family member — only to learn that O’Donnell’s funeral home had closed.

O’Donnell allegedly told them he would provide them with their signed paperwork and return they payments but never did.

Investigators got a warrant to arrest O’Donnell and located him at a family member’s home in late March. He allegedly turned off the lights and pretended not to be home, but was arrested after police sent in a K-9 to find him, the statement said.

The district attorney’s office is looking to determine whether O’Donnell might have taken other clients’ money.

Investigators urged anyone with information to contact Boston police detectives at 617-343-4335 or the district attorney’s investigators at 617-619-4010.