11/22/2012 04:13 EST | Updated 01/22/2013 05:12 EST

Tougher sentence for southern Alberta funeral home owner who defrauded clients

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - An Appeal Court has toughened the sentence for a southern Alberta funeral home operater who defrauded clients.

Ralph Zentner of the Cornerstone Funeral Home in Lethbridge pleaded guilty earlier this year to overcharging for caskets and cremation containers.

He was given a conditional discharge and ordered to do community service.

The Crown appealed the sentence and the Alberta Court of Appeal has now fined Zentner $5,000.

The appeal judges said the original sentence allowed Zentner to break even financially, but the fine imposes some actual punishment.

Zentner had his licence taken away by the Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board a few months ago and he can't reapply until March 2014.

The Crown dropped eight other charges when Zentner pleaded guilty last January. He was also accused of reusing rental coffins without replacing protective liners and faced allegations that a deceased's finger was cut off to remove a ring.

In a written statement in January, he said the allegations were false. But he also said he was taking responsibility and would change the funeral home's practices.

(CJOC, The Canadian Press)