January 24, 2020

SPRINGFIELD – An investigation by the Illinois Office of Comptroller and local police into the misuse of more than $136,000 in pre-need funeral funds led to the arrest a former Streator mortuary director Friday.

William “B.J.” Elias, 51, turned himself into Streator police after Lasalle County authorities issued a warrant for his arrest. He is charged with 14 counts of violating the Illinois Funeral Funds or Burial Act and theft. All of the charges are felonies.

The warrant was issued following an investigation into missing pre-need funeral trust funds that consumers had purchased through Elias Funeral Home in Streator. The Illinois Office of Comptroller, Streator police and the Lasalle County state’s attorney led the investigation.

The Comptroller’s Office identified 31 individual victims from whom Elias stole $136,112 in pre-need funeral funds between 2003 and 2019.

Elias’ state funeral director license was revoked in October 2019 by the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Elias Funeral Home’s pre-need funeral license was revoked by the Illinois Office of Comptroller in June 2019, meaning the business could no longer accept pre-payment for funeral arrangements.

“Funeral directors who violate the public’s trust must be held accountable,” said Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza. “I appreciate the priority Lasalle County authorities placed on this investigation, and I look forward to Elias’ victims receiving prompt justice.”

The Illinois Office of Comptroller administers and enforces state laws regarding pre-need funeral purchases and service delivery. 

Elias posted 10% of his $75,000 bond and was released from police custody, according to the Streator Police Department.