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Sylva funeral home owner charged with fraud

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- A man who owns a funeral home in Sylva and his wife have been arrested and charged with obtaining property by false pretense.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin says 56-year-old Ronnie Austin Riddle is charged with 13 counts and his 55-year-old wife Thomasine Sheehen Riddle is charged with 9 counts.

Investigators say the Riddles collected about $50,000 in premiums from at least 13 couples and individuals for pre-need burial policies between 1998 and 2009. But investigators say the couple never submitted the policy applications and money to the insurance companies.

Investigators say Ronnie Riddle owned and operated Melton Riddle Funeral Home in Sylva and his wife worked with him.

The couple turned themselves in to Jackson County sheriff's deputies earlier this week. It was not clear if they have a lawyer.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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