Widow says she was taken for a ride

Seven On Your Side
February 25, 2011 10:39:55 PM PST
His name is Bernard Couch - a Brooklyn hearse driver, who widow Vivian Broughton says took her for a ride - over-charging her thousands for the funeral of her husband, Ray.

"I wanted the best coffin, flowers, the best service," she said. "(My husband) would be devastated, because he knew the guy too."

"It's unacceptable. In my eyes, it's unacceptable," her brother, Fred Jackson, said.

When Ray passed away from a heart attack, Vivian used his life insurance policies to fund the funeral.

Vivian says Bernard Couch, a family friend, was trusted with the paperwork and 10-thousand dollars. The funeral cost five thousand and change. Last August, Bernard gave her a check for the balance - nearly 45-hundred, but the check bounced.

"He kept telling me , you know, be patient and he was going to give it to me. I've been patient. My husband's been dead nine months now," she said.

Vivian took the hearse driver to small claims court, and won when he did not show.

After we got involved, he promised a check that week. Three weeks went by, and still no money.

It was time to go looking for Bernard Couch, but at his home address, two men talking through the closed door both denied that he lived there.

Just then a UPS delivery came addressed to you know who.

We finally caught up to him outside the funeral home where he has done work. Bernie would not talk to us, and he sped off in a car.

After taking off with the back door open, Bernard called with an explanation blaming someone else for not give him the life insurance payouts Vivian trusted him with.

"There's no way they can prove, unless it's fraudulent, that I took anything that wasn't mine," he said on the phone.

Proof came from the widow. She provided us with checks signed and cashed by Bernard and even a wire transfer to his sister totalling thousands of dollars.


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