In the end, Clayton will likely spend many of his final days in a federal penitentiary. The Memphis Commercial Appeal outlines the plea bargain to be entered by Clayton Smart to conclude criminal investigations in Tennessee, Oklahoma and Michigan.

Comments made to the Commercial Appeal story express outrage with the prosecutors and the plea bargain. Consumers will not be made whole, nor will Mr. Smart be summarily executed.

The costs of the Smart investigation and prosecution have to be staggering. The transactions span three states, multiple state regulatory jurisdictions and various local and Federal prosecutors. With the prospect of securing testimony against all of those who abetted Mr. Smart, prosecutors have moved to bring the matters to faster conclusion.

It is unlikely that three different courts will agree that Mr. Smart’s 4 years at 201 Poplar has paid his debt to society. His cooperation will count for something, but the harm to consumers can’t be ignored.  

With budgets in decline, regulatory agencies and prosecutors need to find the means to work together when the facts indicate fraud or theft have occurred.  The preneed regulator will be the first to suspect something is wrong, but in the end, may lack the resources to press for prosecution.   Prosecutors may lack the facts and knowledge of the preneed law to determine whether a crime has been committed.  Better coordination between regulators and local prosecutors is needed.