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Owner of funeral home under investigation had history of violations

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POCATELLO — A Pocatello funeral home surrounded by police tape Friday morning has a history of violations, according to public documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.

The Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses database shows that between 2015 and 2018, Lance R. Peck, the owner of Downard Funeral Home, faced civil disciplinary actions.

RELATED | Officials confirm funeral home investigation centers around report of decomposing body

Troubles for Downard Funeral Home and Portneuf Valley Crematory, a business also owned by Peck, began in 2012 when a man donated his remains to Idaho State University’s cadaver program. Peck was out of town and had another funeral home pick up the man’s remains and somewhere in the process, he “did not receive the proper documentation” to donate the remains to ISU.

Peck said the man’s remains were not in a condition to donate to the university and cremated them at his funeral home. The Board of Morticians said Peck did this despite knowing the man’s wishes.

Downard Funeral Home
Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

Issues with the man’s paperwork got Downard into trouble, according to the 2015 sanctions filed by the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses. The same document issuing sanctions against Peck notes that in 2013, he let the funeral home’s license expire and did not re-register for a few months.

In 2015, Peck was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and $5,500 in investigative costs and attorney fees. Peck received six months of probation from the Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses.

Peck found himself in trouble again in 2016, saying that in 2015, Downard Funeral Home and Portneuf Valley Crematory operated again as an unlicensed funeral establishment. As a result, Peck and his funeral home were required to pay a $2,500 fine and $5,000 in investigative costs and attorney fees. Peck was given another six months of probation.

The next year, Downard Funeral Home violated the same law and was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and $3,715 in investigative costs. Peck was given another six months of probation.

More troubles for the business ensued after a woman died in September 2016. She had requested that her body be donated to the Idaho State University cadaver program. When situations “out of Downard’s control” prevented the funeral home from donating the body, the woman was cremated.

Body to Wilks

The woman’s family learned of a program where ashes supposedly could be donated. Disciplinary documents show the family received four small vials of the ashes, but no certificate from Downard Funeral Home that certified the remains made it to the program.

Investigators determined the program never received the woman’s ashes, and if it had, they would not have any use for the remains.

It wasn’t until November 2017 that Peck reported finding the remains at the funeral home, and he gave them to the family. That same year, Peck faced more disciplinary actions, including another $2,000 fine and thousands in investigative and attorney fees. He was placed on a two-year term of probation.

It appears the funeral home has not been disciplined since 2018. All disciplinary actions represent civil violations, and Peck has a clean criminal record.

Efforts to reach him Friday afternoon were not successful.

Officials were still at the Downard Funeral Home as of 3 p.m. Friday after police received a report about a decomposing body at the building. Officers report removing an unnumbered amount of bodies from the funeral home.

The bodies positively identified have been taken to other area funeral homes, while those still awaiting identification are in the custody of the Bannock County Coroner’s Office.

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