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Bodies removed from unregistered Ypsilanti crematory under investigation, state officials say

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

All bodies have been cremated or removed from an Ypsilanti crematory under investigation for violations, state officials announced Thursday.

"This was no small feat and involved the cooperation and participation of multiple licensed funeral establishments, county medical examiners and the State Vital Records Office, all coordinated by LARA with the assistance of the Department of Attorney General, in a matter of days," said the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in a statement.

On June 4, the department and Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office issued a cease and desist order against Tri-County Cremation Services, LLC and its owners, O’Neil Swanson II and Dianne Swanson.

The order instructed them to stop operating a crematory without a registration, immediately cease all operations at 1106 E. Michigan Ave. and provide proof to the state cemetery commissioner that O’Neil Swanson II no longer owns or operates the businesses.

On June 11, the Ingham County Circuit Court ordered the Swansons to stop violating the order, state officials said Thursday.

Last week, LARA also initiated an administrative action against Comfort Cremation Services LLC, which includes O’Neil Swanson as a member and lists an office in Troy, according to the release.

On June 17,  in a separate case Ypsilanti Township launched, the Washtenaw County Circuit Court ordered the Swansons and Comfort Cremation Services to "refrain from participating in the removal of human remains from the crematory facility," LARA said.

An attorney representing the Swansons did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The Ypsilanti investigation began after LARA received an anonymous complaint that alleged heavy smoke poured from the crematory chimney, bodies awaited cremation without proper storage and bodily fluids leaked onto the facility floor, authorities said.

Swanson Funeral Home in Flint.

O’Neil Swanson II operated Swanson Funeral Home in Flint and was fined several times before the funeral home's license was revoked. Inspectors previously found decomposing bodies and unsanitary conditions at the Flint facility, which closed in 2017.

He pleaded no contest in July 2019 to two felony counts of failing to escrow prepaid funeral contract funds.

Swanson was sentenced in September 2019 in Genesee County Circuit Court to an 11-month delayed sentence and ordered to pay more than $75,000 in restitution.

Because of his conviction, Swanson's mortuary science license and the mortuary science establishment license were revoked and “Swanson is ineligible to hold a controlling interest in a cemetery or crematory under the Act,” state officials said.

Residents with concerns can call LARA at (517) 241-7000 or email CSCLonline@michigan.gov.