Funeral Homes Raise Concerns About Director of New Low Cost Service

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

When a loved one passes away many people are left in shock and as they start to plan a funeral, there's another kind--sticker shock.

A new low cost funeral home has opened in Grand Junction promising to cut costs in half but some other funeral homes have concerns about the director's background.

11 News Reporter Jessica Zartler checked into allegations that the director has a checkered criminal past.

Kevin LaQuey of Mesa Funeral Service sat down with 11 News and admitted he's been arrested a dozen times.

But he says even though he's struggled in the past, he's made a fresh start and wants to help families.

"You grow up mowing the lawn at the funeral homes, washing the cars and the limo's, it just becomes part of your life," LaQuey told 11 News on Thursday.

He's a third generation funeral director.

"You do it because you want to help people and care for people."

He was a military embalmer for two years and in the reserves for 13,
got his masters in funeral services and he's a former director of a mortuary science school in New Orleans.

"My credentials speak for themselves."

But it's other things from his past that are speaking to some in the funeral industry in Grand Junction.

An FBI background check shows several arrests from 1987 to 2003 including convictions for bribery, kidnapping, domestic violence, obstructing police and forgery.

A check of Mesa County court records shows traffic violations for driving without a license and DUI.

LaQuey says he underwent treatment at the VA hospital and he's been back on the right track for five years.

"It was a part of my life when I was young. I went through a phase and it's not part of my life anymore--I've changed."

He believes other funeral services are drudging up his past to put him out of business.

He's had just one violation in the funeral business according to the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department. It reported LaQuey ran a funeral home in the state and someone he worked with signed a contract they were not authorized to sign.

LaQuey is worried that spending time defending his past is taking away from what he's really trying to do with his new business and decades of experience.

"Grand Junction needs a low cost funeral home. We're gonna give people hope and relief."

If the focus on his past hurts the future of his business, LaQuey worries about families who have a hard time paying for funerals.

And even though he's had some challenges, that's what he spent his life doing, helping families deal with death.

The funeral homes that brought this to our attention did not want to go on camera for this story.

Colorado is the only state in the U.S. where funeral director's do not have to have a license. Howvere, LaQuey does have an active license from New Mexico.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Sam Location: Boston on Oct 4, 2008 at 05:43 PM
    Two observations: Does CO have a regulatory body that could monitor this person's practice, now and in the future? Having the press report on such things is good, but will they ever check back to see if the concerns were justified? My guess is no. Secondly, why would CO not require a license to operate a funeral home? Seems like there needs to be another story to explain why this is the only state in the Union not mandating this certification.
  • by Lesley Location: Grand Junction on Oct 3, 2008 at 08:57 AM
    I agree with Shelly, Sunset Mesa in Montrose is the place to go. When my mother died unexpectantly, the gal came immediately and made our arrangements in the comfort of our living room. The service was unbelievable. I paid half the price of a grand junction mortuary. Call Megan for sure.
  • by Shelly Location: Grand Junction on Oct 2, 2008 at 09:33 AM
    There is another wonderful funeral service located just 60 miles south in Montrose that offers even lower prices than this other guy. Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors (970) 240-9870 has an onsite crematory and offers beautiful services at reasonable, affordable prices. Everyone has a choice....and I suggest using Sunset. They have two wonderful directors who really show care and concern for the community. When asked, the director said she was more than happy to work in Grand Junction to help families in our area.
  • by Mona Location: Grand Jct on Sep 11, 2008 at 01:12 AM
    The email that came to light, about Mr. LaQuey's background was planned to coininside with the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the new Mesa Funeral Home. If asked where the email came from, it is from the largest funeral home in Grand Jct. This is how this information came to light. I am in no way saying the public doesn't have the right to know, but should we investigate all mortuary employees? I have utmost respect for them, and have had many times unfortunatally to have had to use their services for my family. They have always been very helpful and indeed respectful. This however I believe comes down to money. Over one years time, ONE HUNDRED cases could easily cost them to lose $600,000 dollars on the cheapest funeral being $6,000. Mr. LaQuey is offering the same service, same quality, same experince. Yes he has a past, but he has admitted his past,not hid behind it, and and I believe he has a service this valley needs.
  • by Sam Location: Colorado on Sep 6, 2008 at 07:02 PM
    This guy had two prior funeral homes in GJ, where he promised cheap services. This guy will say anything to try and get business. If he's licensed in New Mexico, why isn't he working in that State? I wouldn't trust him with my loved ones! I'd recommend more checking of his background.
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