A former Fayette County funeral director pleaded guilty to over 100 charges related to the theft of nearly $600,000 from clients who pre-paid for funerals.
Stephen E. Kezmarsky III, 52, sat only feet away from seven of the nearly 20 victims who arrived in a Fayette County courtroom for the Tuesday plea. Some of the victims sat in the jury box so they could better hear what saw said during the hearing.
With no deal for a specific sentence in place, Kezmarsky entered a general plea to dozens of charges and could face a lengthy prison term.
“There are so many counts against you, there’s potential for a life sentence,” Judge Steve P. Leskinen told him. Leskinen said many counts carry a sentence of 6 to 12 months and others carry mandatory minimum sentences based on the age of the victims, many of whom are over the age of 60.
Between October 2005 and March 2017, Kezmarsky stole from clients who were pre-paying for funerals at the former Kezmarsky Funeral Home in Uniontown. Earlier this year, Kezmarsky was found to have unidentified cremated remains in a storage locker, and faced even more theft-related charges.
Leskinen read over the counts filed against Kezmarsky, which included not using $1,600 for funeral vaults a woman purchased for her parents, and $10,000 that was supposed to go toward another victim’s funeral.
Before accepting the guilty plea, Leskinen asked Kezmarsky if he wanted to say anything to the victims in the courtroom.
“Not now,” Kezmarsky said.
Leskinen also asked Kezmarsky’s attorney, Stephen Colafella, if he wanted to speak on Kezmarsky’s behalf on simply what the motive or reasons were for Kezmarsky’s actions.
Colafella said his client would rather address those issues when he is sentenced.
Following the plea hearing, Colafella said Kezmarsky has remorse for what happened.
“Our priority is to try to make the victims whole and continue to try to make these people whole,” Colafella said. “Restitution is our main priority.”
Before the charges were filed, Kezmarsky filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the funeral home. The business was sold as part of that case, but the proceeds went largely to creditors who were unpaid when the facility was open.
District Attorney Rich Bower asked Leskinen to set aside an entire day for sentencing because he anticipated multiple victims in the case would want to address Kezmarsky, either through testimony or through having statement read to the court.
One victim who didn’t want to be identified, said while leaving the courthouse, “I’m sure he’ll get what’s coming.”
Kezmarsky is currently free on $500,000 unsecured bond.
His sentencing will take place in January.