Philly funeral director fined, loses license for abusing corpses

Kimble Funeral Home, which houses Hawkins Funeral Services.

Almost a year after investigators found rotting corpses buried under trash bags at a West Philadelphia funeral home, the state has revoked the mortuary director's license.

Blair Anthony Hawkins must relinquish his funeral director license and pay $90,000 in civil penalties for violating state laws, the Pennsylvania Board of Funeral Directors ruled Thursday. His funeral home, Hawkins Funeral Services, was fined an additional $10,000 for operating without a license.

In a statement Monday, Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortés said Hawkins received the maximum civil penalty allowed under law, and warned other practitioners that the state "will impose the strongest sanctions available."

"We will not tolerate behavior that preys on fellow Pennsylvanians in need of immediate and trustworthy professional services," Cortés said.

Hawkins, who had operated the home since May 2014, was charged in September with three counts of abuse of corpses.

Investigators were looking into an unrelated complaint in August 2015 when they came upon three decomposing bodies in Hawkins' facility on Vine and 53rd Streets. Two of the bodies were covered in maggots and flies, and had trash bags filled with medical waste sitting on top of them. Investigators also found a gore-covered embalming table and buckets of human organs in Hawkins' funeral home.

In its final adjudication, the board wrote: "Rather than treating the deceased with the dignity and respect to which they were entitled . . . Hawkins treated the deceased no differently than the bags of garbage stacked atop and around them."

In addition to operating an unlicensed operation, the board found that Hawkins failed to properly store and dispose of remains, allowed the bodies to deteriorate, disrespected the dead, and inflated the price of his services and pocketed the leftover cash.

The state has stepped up its scrutiny of funeral homes since last summer, when Hawkins and another Philadelphia funeral director, Janet Powell Dailey, were found allowing corpses to rot.

In both cases, family members of the deceased said they had been told their loved ones were cremated.

The state revoked Dailey's license in January. She was fined $180,000 for violating state laws. The funeral home she ran, Powell Mortuary Services, was fined an additional $120,000 and had its license revoked.