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FUNERAL HOME OWNERS ACCUSED OF THEFT

A home where they worked has accused the Tampa men of fraud.
 
Published Aug. 25, 2007|Updated Aug. 30, 2007

Two local funeral directors were booked into the Hillsborough County jail Friday morning, accused of grand theft, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Julio Gonzalez-Roel, 45, and his brother, Adolfo Gonzalez-Roel, 47, were booked into jail about 10:30 a.m. on the charges, jail records show. They were released after posting $7,500 bail.

They own JGR Funeral Home, at 6718 N Armenia Ave.

The funeral home where the men previously worked filed allegations of criminal action against them, according to the state's Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services.

If found guilty of criminal charges in connection with the funeral business, the men could lose their license or face other disciplinary action, said division spokesman Richard Brinkley.

Prosecutors and the FDLE wouldn't give details of the case, other than to say it was an investigation into allegations of fraud.

In 1996, the brothers helped found Gonzalez Funeral Home on N Dale Mabry Highway, according to their business brochure. They left that business to start JGR Funeral Home in 2006. They grew up in the funeral business. Their stepfather, James R. Roel, founded Tampa's Roel & Curry funeral home in 1975, according to the brochure.

The Gonzalez Funeral Home is now operated by Houston-based Service Corporation International, which owns about 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries.

SCI spokeswoman Robyn Sadowsky said she was aware of the investigation but declined to talk about it.

Julio Gonzalez-Roel has spoken openly about his dislike for the corporate-chain ownership of funeral homes.

In a 2006 interview with the Tampa Tribune, he said his experience with corporate ownership ended badly, that he planned to offer a personal touch to his business.

Reached at his office after he was booked into jail and released, Julio Gonzalez-Roel told a reporter he knew nothing of the charges.

He called back later to say that he was caught off guard by the call and that he had been arrested. He referred all questions to his attorney, Norman Cannella, who did not return a call for comment.

Julio Gonzalez-Roel has no criminal record in Florida. Adolfo Gonzalez-Roel has been arrested three times, accused of drunk driving, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The disposition of those cases was unclear Friday from state records.

News researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or vansickle@sptimes.com.

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