Concerns raised in Mohave County as owner of several funeral homes runs medical examiner’s office
MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. – The fifth-largest county in the nation, by land area, has struggled to find a medical examiner, and nine months ago, Mohave County did something even officials call unorthodox.
They awarded a multi-million dollar contract to a company that owns several funeral homes in that same county, and now the president of the company runs the medical examiner’s office.
The question remains: is there a conflict of interest?
Competing mortuaries in Mohave County say their businesses are financially impacted.
How? They claim they’re getting fewer death calls from the medical examiner’s office alleging that the person in charge is taking advantage of his position and access.
Other funeral homes, a county supervisor and a former employee address the concerns, saying there’s truth to the allegations.
Changes in Mohave County
Naomi Bradbury-Marchand owns Bradbury Memorial Center in Lake Havasu City.
At least 90% of her business comes from cremations, which require authorization from the medical examiner.
In this business, the mortuary and the examiner’s office cooperate to make sure decedents are transferred in a timely fashion so that funeral arrangements run as scheduled. The relationship is important to say the least.
Bradbury-Marchand says that connection has changed in Mohave County.
“A group of funeral home owners and managers have gotten together we’ve talked about it. We all have the same issues. We’ve tried to address them, and we get stonewalled,” Bradbury-Marchand said.
‘There’s no ability for us to hold somebody accountable’
After about five years of being the Mohave County Medical Examiner, Dr. Archiaus Mosley sent the county his resignation last spring, citing health issues. He’d continue to provide services until the end of November 2021.
Meanwhile, the county did not have success recruiting a pathologist to take his job, but did get one proposal.
During a county board meeting last November, the procurement director and county manager told supervisors there would be no conflict of interest if Serenity Memorial Group operated the medical examiner’s office.
The CEO of Serenity Memorial Group is John Hassett.
He owns five funeral homes located in Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Mohave Valley and Kingman. The businesses are Arizona Affordable, Desert Lawn and Mohave Memorial.
Hassett also sits on the planning and zoning commission.
“The mortuary is not going to be running the medical examiner’s office and I think that that’s a big concern not only from other funeral home owners, but the community in general,” Hassett said at the board of supervisors meeting.
He proposed to be director of operations for the medical examiner’s office and hire Dr. Mosley to join his staff as the licensed pathologist focused on autopsies.
District 3 supervisor Buster Johnson was skeptical and raised questions about the decision in the November meeting.
District 3 supervisor Buster Johnson
Buster was the only board member to vote “no” on awarding the contract to Serenity Memorial, saying, “figured there would be a …….