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Former funeral director accused of taking advantage of Spanish-speaking families

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Posted at 6:07 AM, Dec 07, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Division of Regulatory Boards is alerting Tennessee residents that the department has received new information about the alleged ongoing activities of former funeral director and embalmer Reid Van Ness.

Van Ness surrendered both his funeral director and embalmer licenses in March 2020 while being investigated for activities involving the taking of payments from Spanish-speaking families with deceased loved ones and not shipping the loved ones back to the families’ countries of origin as promised.

The department has recently received information that Van Ness is allegedly approaching Spanish-speaking residents in Rutherford County who have recently lost loved ones.

Van Ness, who is fluent in Spanish, is allegedly offering to have the remains of the families' loved ones either cremated or shipped to their countries of origin in exchange for money.

According to recent reports, instead of the remains either being cremated or shipped home, information regarding the whereabouts of the remains is either not being provided to the families or the whereabouts of the remains become unknown.

The last known address for Van Ness was Madison, Tennessee (Davidson County), and he associates with Shane Hessey of Todd County Funeral Home in Elkton, Kentucky.

Anyone with knowledge about this activity is urged to immediately file a complaint with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office, local law enforcement and the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance.

NewsChannel 5 spoke with him about the accusations earlier this year and he said he's done nothing wrong.

He insists families are referred to him and he helps them by referring them to a funeral home he works with in Kentucky.

He's said he's never been charged with a crime and just tries to help families in their time of need.