Funeral homes of horror
Illustration by Jason Edmiston

A sobbing Raúl Muñoz lurched toward a varnished wood coffin at the foot of a small church in Camagüey, Cuba. It was 2 o'clock the morning of November 18, 2006, a little more than a month since Muñoz's son, Yetsiyel, committed suicide by jumping from the 14th floor of a Hialeah building. The day had arrived for the dead young man's viewing. Surrounded by relatives and friends, Yetsiyel's father opened the casket and exhaled a loud gasp.

Muñoz's eyes widened in horror. In the casket was the corpse of a Haitian man who clearly wasn't his son.

The panicked father immediately dialed his wife, Nancy, who was still in Miami. "They sent us the wrong body!" he blurted. A terrified Nancy dialed the phone number for Funeraria Latina Nacional at 151 NW 37th Ave., near the Flagler Dog Track, where she and her husband had made final arrangements for Yetsiyel. The owner, Rafaiy Alkhalifa (pronounced Raf-eye Al-cuh-leef-uh), profusely apologized for the mixup.

Illustration by Jason Edmiston
Rafaiy Alkhalifa has been burying and cremating bodies on the cheap for 17 years.
Michael McElroy
Rafaiy Alkhalifa has been burying and cremating bodies on the cheap for 17 years.
Alkhalifa's white van, parked at Funeraria Latina Nacional, advertises his business.
Michael McElroy
Alkhalifa's white van, parked at Funeraria Latina Nacional, advertises his business.
Dead bodies at Funeraria Latina Nacional have ended up misplaced, misidentified, and, in one case, wrongfully cremated.
Michael McElroy
Dead bodies at Funeraria Latina Nacional have ended up misplaced, misidentified, and, in one case, wrongfully cremated.
Crematory owner Verl Shaw claims Alkhalifa doesn't care about the bereaved families he serves.
Crematory owner Verl Shaw claims Alkhalifa doesn't care about the bereaved families he serves.

He assured her that he had Yetsiyel's body and would deliver it to Camagüey November 20 at no extra charge. Nancy left to join her husband in Cuba, instructing two family members to identify the body before allowing Alkhalifa to ship it. He never came through with the missing corpse. On November 21, in the Brickell Avenue office of his lawyer, the funeral home owner informed Yetsiyel's relatives that the young man's body "had been mistakenly cremated," according to a 2008 lawsuit filed by the Muñoz family against Alkhalifa.

When the shocked family members demanded the ashes, Alkhalifa dropped another bomb. He had given the remains to the family of Marcos Mustelier, the dead Haitian he had mistakenly shipped to Cuba. Mustelier's mother, under the belief she had received her son's ashes, scattered Yetsiyel's dust at sea. Alkhalifa allegedly begged Muñoz's kin "not to notify the media because he would lose his license and business."

The Muñoz case plus two other pending lawsuits and more than a decade's worth of administrative and criminal investigative material against Alkhalifa reveal him to be one unsavory businessman who desecrates the funeral home profession.

In addition to mistakenly cremating Yetsiyel and shipping the wrong body, Alkhalifa has been accused of losing the ashes of a cremated corpse, holding another body hostage, losing track of cadavers, misidentifying remains, running unsanitary funeral homes without proper licenses, and pilfering a half-million dollars from a funeral trust fund controlled by the State of Florida.

"Rafaiy is the scumbag of the industry," says Verl Shaw, a crematory owner who used to do business with Alkhalifa. "Rafaiy does things half-assed. He doesn't seem to care about the families or the trade. He just takes care of Rafaiy. He's treated pretty much throughout the industry as a pariah because every time he does business with somebody, he burns 'em."

(Full disclosure: Most of the documents used in this story were obtained by co-author Robert Dunlap, who worked as a paralegal for the law firm of Don Russo, an attorney representing the family of Estelle Vega, a deceased woman whose ashes Alkhalifa allegedly released to a stranger in 2005.)

A single rosebud pokes out of the breast pocket of Rafaiy Alkhalifa's light-gray two-piece suit. With its slightly wilted petals, the deep-red flower is a somber reminder of his line of work. This past July 16, shortly before 5 p.m., the tall man with fine gray hair and dark-cocoa skin strolls the halls of Funeraria Latina Nacional, where 17 years ago he got into the business of burying and cremating the dead. Alkhalifa's black loafers click on the terrazzo floor leading into the main chapel, bathed in a dim orange light. He walks toward the corpse of an elderly Hispanic woman resting inside a sparkly pearl-white coffin.

"This is one of the most expensive caskets you can buy," Alkhalifa proclaims. "Other funeral homes will charge their customers $3,000 for a casket like this. I sell it for $300." He walks outside and points to a sign on his building. It reads, "Cremations Express: $395."

With the rabid tenacity of a used-car salesman willing to cater to or, some critics might say, bamboozle low-income customers, Alkhalifa has cornered the market on cheap death rituals in Miami-Dade County, where burials at other funeral homes run $8,000 to $30,000. During an hourlong interview, Alkhalifa casts himself as the outsider in an industry dominated by Cuban-Americans who despise him because he keeps prices low. To hear him tell it, Alkhalifa is an honest businessman who puts too much faith and trust in employees who burn him.

He insists none of the lawsuits, the administrative complaints, or even a criminal investigation into his business practices has anything to do with him. "A lot of people are not happy with the way I do business," Alkhalifa says. "Because of me, no one can raise their prices."

Inside his spacious office, Alkhalifa sits in a chair at his desk, his back facing a wall lined with various porcelain and wood urns. Born March 18, 1944, in the South American country of Guyana, Alkhalifa says he grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, where his family was involved in sugar-cane cultivation. He attended a Christian boarding school in London. "I grew up with a father who told me: 'Don't play to lose,'" Alkhalifa says.

He came to Miami in the late '80s with his then-wife. He boasts he bought the Townhouse Hotel on 20th Street in Miami Beach but sold it in 1998 because business was bad. He blames the shooting of two German tourists in 1994. "No one was coming," he says. "And the Beach was always a tough market. Rain falls on Memorial Day weekend, you are dead in the water."

(Miami-Dade County property and court records show Universal Investments Unlimited has owned the Townhouse since 1986. Alkhalifa has never been a director or officer in that company, according to Universal's incorporation records. In a 1999 New Times cover story about his battle against local TV station NBC 6 over an exposé about his funeral home business, Alkhalifa claimed he published tourist brochures but that after Hurricane Andrew ripped through South Florida, he needed to get into a business that wasn't cyclical.)

In 1993, Alkhalifa says, he purchased the 37th Avenue funeral home and began tending to the dead. Soon he received a phone call from someone who wanted to bury a Cuban refugee whose body had been recovered at sea. Alkhalifa did it for free. Soon he became the incarnation of Saint Gertrude, patron saint of the dead, for destitute Cuban immigrants and balseros. He proudly holds up a 2007 plaque from El Presidio Político Histórico Cubano honoring him. "Ask them who handles their funerals," Alkhalifa says. "Who takes care of them? Me."

But a year after entering the funeral home business, he was already running into trouble. On February 23, 1994, Alpha Alvarez signed a prepaid contract for the cremation of her father, Francisco Raphael Carro. Five months later, he passed away, and Alvarez authorized Funeraria Latina to transport the body. On June 17, 1994, Alkhalifa's funeral home shipped Carro's remains to Van Orsdel Crematory to be incinerated.

Two weeks later, Alvarez received ashes in a bag labeled "Francisco Carro," but on August 3, Alvarez learned that her father had in fact not been cremated. His body was still in storage at Van Orsdel because Funeraria Latina had not provided the medical examiner's cremation authorization. Carro's corpse was finally cremated August 10, yet the ashes were not delivered to Alvarez until October 3. Alvarez complained to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR), which found Alkhalifa had violated a state statute prohibiting fraud, deceit, negligence, incompetency, or misconduct in the practice of funeral establishment operation. He agreed to pay a $1,346 fine and received a reprimand.

Nonetheless, capitalizing on his reputation as the poor-man's undertaker, Alkhalifa opened three more funeral homes in the '90s: One Price Funerals, Funeraria Cubana, and Funeraria la Católica. In 2000, he donated services to some of the Cuban refugees who had perished on the trip that brought Elián González to Miami. He even obtained a license from the U.S. Treasury that allowed him to transport dead relatives to Cuba for burial.

"I've run this business for more than 15 years, and only last year did I make a profit," Alkhalifa says. "I made $58,000 by cutting back. For me, it is not a profit center. I have other investments I can live off. I stay open to make a statement."

Ten years ago, on a Friday morning in late September, a pungent, revolting odor penetrated the warehouse walls of Sunray Seafood in Northwest Miami-Dade. Owner Ray Roelans was used to fishy smells, but this was something so awful, so overpowering that one of his employees vomited. Roelans stepped outside to investigate the source of the grotesque stench. He found it in the parking lot of the neighboring business, Alkhalifa's One Price Funerals.

It was a coffin oozing unnaturally dark-green fluids and baking under the hot Miami sun. Inside was the decomposing body of Rosa Perez, who had perished 11 months earlier. The remains, which were to have been transferred to a new, sealed casket, had been wheeled outside by Frank Streeter, a One Price funeral director. He "basically worked for the roof over his head and a supply of beer," according to a sworn statement given to state investigators by Rene Alonso, another one of Alkhalifa's funeral directors, who had delivered Perez's remains to One Price.

Despite being accustomed to sleeping next to the bodies he embalmed, Streeter found the smell of Perez's remains intolerable. Roelans complained to Streeter to do something with the body, according to a synopsis of a DBPR investigation into Alkhalifa's business practices.

Streeter said he would call Alkhalifa "to take care of it." A few hours later that day, September 29, 2000, the corpse was still in the parking lot, so Roelans called the cops, who found a macabre scene inside One Price.

According to a Miami-Dade Police incident report, "nine [unidentified] bodies were stacked on top of one another on the floor" of the freezer, there was "blood spatter on the walls and on the ceiling," and the "sink appeared to be clogged with body fluids." The report also said, "Alkhalifa allowed these conditions to exist and exposed his employees and other persons to these unsanitary conditions."

That wasn't all. Near the mattress where Streeter slept, cops came across a skull, its eye sockets marked with red and blue ink, impaled on a broomstick. The funeral director claimed it was a gift.

The day after police raided One Price, Alkhalifa traveled to Allen & Shaw Cremation Services in Opa-locka. Co-owned by a bespectacled, lumbering, gray-bearded man named Verl Shaw, Allen & Shaw since 1999 was Alkhalifa's go-to place for cremating dead people. "Rafaiy brought us a body in a sealed air-tray container, which is not uncommon because they brought bodies in and out all the time," Shaw recalls in a soft-spoken old-Florida drawl.

"We logged it in and placed the body in the cooler," he adds. "That was pretty much the last we heard from Rafaiy for a while." The container was marked with the name of a dead man named Romero Gómez, one of the nine bodies stacked in the freezer.

When cops returned five days later, on October 2, they arrested Alkhalifa on three criminal misdemeanor charges for not having a certificate of use and occupancy, doing business without a license, and creating a nuisance injurious to health. (The charges were eventually dropped.) After that, the discount-rate undertaker eluded state investigators' further attempts to question him. According to an investigative synopsis, "The few conversations that have taken place... Alkhalifa either says that he does not remember, that it is the funeral directors' fault... that he was unaware of the problems with One Price Funeral Inc. That unfortunately Streeter is an alcoholic and is in charge of One Price."

On March 9, 2001, Alkhalifa returned to Allen & Shaw demanding that Gómez, the dead man he had left there almost a half-year earlier, be immediately incinerated. Shaw says he and his partner insisted that they open the container to verify the identity of the emaciated, dehydrated corpse in a hospital gown. Initially, Alkhalifa didn't want them to read the deceased's toe tag, Shaw says.

"We found the tag said, 'Rodolfo Aguirre,' which wasn't the name of the body that Rafaiy was trying to get us to cremate," Shaw attests. "My partner, Paul Nowak, also noticed something at the foot of the box, underneath the feet of the deceased."

Shaw claims Alkhalifa tried to push them out of the way but that they pulled out a second body bag. Shaw and Nowak unzipped it and found a human skeleton with no skull that Alkhalifa told them was a man named Victor Pérez. The cremation specialists had Alkhalifa handwrite and sign an affidavit affirming he brought the headless cadaver to their facility. "We didn't cremate anything that night," Shaw says. "We had Rafaiy leave, and I made a phone call to the inspectors."

According to the state investigative synopsis, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Department's morgue bureau supervisor, Scott Hanks, took possession of the skeleton March 12. He used DNA testing to match the remains to the skull found next to Streeter's bed.

As far as culpability, Alkhalifa insists he is not responsible for the actions of his funeral directors. "The funeral director cannot make mistakes because his license is on the line and they know that," he says. "So I am not the person that has to oversee. I am just the person buying the beans to make the coffee."

The morning of Saturday, April 17, 2004, Rafael Torres, his sister, and his mother convened inside the main chapel of Funeraria Latina shortly after 9 a.m. But something was wrong. None of their friends or other relatives had shown up. There was something else missing: the casket containing the body of Rafael's father, Juan Rolando Torres.

By 10:45 a.m., the chapel was still empty and the corpse still nowhere in sight. Rafael had had enough.

A day earlier, Rafael had gotten into an argument with Alkhalifa over his mother's decision to have Juan Rolando placed in a mausoleum and not one of Alkhalifa's cemetery plots. In a fit of rage, Alkhalifa had taken Juan Rolando's name off the service signs and had instructed employees to tell relatives and friends that there was no service scheduled for that day, Rafael recalls during a recent interview inside his home's white-tiled living room.

Rafael, a tall, heavyset Cuban-American, says he confronted Alkhalifa and demanded a refund of his $2,200 and Juan Rolando's corpse. "You're not getting shit from me," Alkhalifa allegedly replied.

When two Miami Police officers arrived, Alkhalifa agreed to produce Juan Rolando. Shortly before 1 p.m., almost four hours after the service was scheduled to begin, Alkhalifa wheeled into the chapel a casket that was dripping a clear liquid onto the floor. Rafael's sister, Vivian, followed him. She peeked into the open coffin to see her father's naked body covered in blood. While Alkhalifa stood by, Vivian wiped the blood with towels and blankets provided by funeral home employees.

"She even put cotton in his nostrils to stop the blood from gushing out," Rafael remembers. "The body was not even cold, and he had stuffed it in almost sideways into the casket."

Rafael and his sister decided to leave the casket closed during the 45-minute service because their father was such a gruesome mess. As they prepared to leave, Rafael says, Alkhalifa asked his sister to sign a paper that they "were totally satisfied with the service." She promptly refused. Alkhalifa placed Juan Rolando in a hearse. "He said we would never see my father again unless we signed that paper," Rafael recollects. "Our family members had to block him in from leaving. And we had to call the cops again."

Alkhalifa delivered Rafael's father to Graceland South Cemetery's mausoleum, but the family vowed the funeral home owner would pay for his despicable behavior. In July that year, Rafael sent a complaint letter to the DBPR signed by himself, Vivian, and 19 other relatives and friends who had attended the horrific service. The department opened an investigation into the Torreses' claims.

It was one of three administrative probes into Alkhalifa's business practices, including the One Price debacle involving the nine bodies, conducted between 2002 and 2005. State investigators found probable cause that Alkhalifa violated Florida statutes relating to the transportation, identification, and handling of dead human bodies. What's more, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office in 2003 charged Alkhalifa with one count each of grand theft and organized fraud. He was accused of looting $500,000 from Florida's pre-need trust fund, which allows low-income families to finance loved ones' funerals with a down payment and monthly installments.

According to Alkhalifa, a former employee had opened a separate bank account to deposit customers' checks. "Instead of putting the money in a trust account, it went to him," Alkhalifa explains. "Since it was my business license, the state came after me."

On January 3, 2005, Alkhalifa pleaded no contest and received a withhold adjudication on the grand theft charge on the condition he pay $150,000 back to the funeral trust fund and $60,000 for investigative costs. He also gave up his funeral director's license and received ten years' probation. "They really took me to the cleaners," Alkhalifa grouses.

Still, the administrative complaints — including the Torreses' — against him were dismissed as part of his plea deal. And Alkhalifa was able to stay in business.

Juan Rolando's children aren't finished with the funeral home director. They have a lawsuit pending against him. Rafael Torres, whose home is on NW 37th Avenue, just five minutes from Funeraria Latina Nacional, says Alkhalifa sickens him. "A lot of Cubans don't know how bad he has treated people," Rafael says. "I want to see his business closed down. I don't think it's right that he is still in business."

Alkhalifa notes that Juan Rolando's children recently settled for $2,200 — the amount they had paid him. He complains he ended up spending $10,000 to $12,000 defending himself for four years against their lawsuit. "They got a direct burial for what they paid," Alkhalifa says. "That means no embalming or any other preparation is done. And the father was 350 pounds. That is why he couldn't fit in the casket."

When Estelle Vega passed away April 25, 2005, her nephew, Jorge Porter, made arrangements with Alkhalifa to cremate her. About a month later, on May 23, Maria Alvarez, an employee in charge of Alkhalifa's funeral monument store, phoned Porter to pick up his aunt's ashes. When he arrived at the funeral home the following day, Porter was shocked to find that Alvarez had already released the ashes to a man claiming to be Vega's grandson. The stranger had provided an expired alien registration card with the name Giovanny Parra. Porter hired a lawyer, who soon learned that the real Parra had died March 5, 1994.

Alkhalifa maintains that Alvarez followed proper procedures and that Giovanny Parra identified himself as Vega's grandson. "He is next of kin as far as we are concerned," he says. "For somebody to come and claim ashes that [are] not theirs is very, very unusual." But according to Porter's lawsuit, Parra is not related to Vega.

Alkhalifa had no procedure to protect the ashes of dead people in his care, according to Albert Diamond, Funeraria Latina's former compliance officer and disbarred attorney, in a November 11, 2009 deposition. The ashes "were all over the place," Diamond said, adding that when Vega's family hired a lawyer, Alkhalifa's strategy was to "delay it as much as we can, and it will go away."

When Diamond tried to investigate what happened to Vega's ashes, Alvarez would not let him inside the monument store, and Alkhalifa ran interference for her, Diamond said. "Rafaiy did attempt on many occasions to come between me and Ms. Alvarez," he testified. "I never got to Ms. Alvarez alone."

Tinted windows soften the warm sunlight streaming into attorney Don Russo's second-floor offices at 7990 Bird Rd. in West Miami-Dade. It's January 11, 2010, a little more than three years after the body of Haitian Marcos Mustelier was delivered to the family of Yetsiyel Muñoz in Cuba. Inside a conference room, Russo quizzes a former Funeraria Latina driver during a 30-minute deposition.

Gabriel Bello claims his former boss was responsible for mixing up the bodies. Just days after Muñoz committed suicide October 6, 2006, by jumping off a building in Hialeah, Bello picked up the young man's body from the medical examiner's office, he testifies. The body was then embalmed and repaired for viewing. "But no one from the family wanted to see him because his head was smashed, his head was actually disfigured," Bello says. "However, the dad did see him."

Bello explains that after the viewing, Alkhalifa instructed him to transport Muñoz to the freezer inside a crematorium owned by Texas-based funeral and cremations company Gold Coast Crematory, where the body would stay on ice until it could be shipped to Cuba. Bello testifies he also picked up Mustelier's body at Jackson Memorial Hospital and delivered it to the same freezer. Mustelier was slated for cremation.

"Yetsiyel was not supposed to go to the crematorium because he was a ship-out to Cuba," Bello says. "But Alkhalifa had a very bad divorce from his wife," and she got to keep the funeral home with the freezer, the ex-driver adds.

"Since he couldn't store the bodies, he naively thought that he would put the bodies in the crematorium just like any other body stored there," Bello says. "But he wouldn't tell the people at the crematorium that those bodies were ship-outs."

According to Bello, Alkhalifa planned to tell the crematorium's staff that the deceased's families had changed their minds and wanted to bury their loved ones instead. But apparently, Muñoz had been tagged with Mustelier's name. When the order came to incinerate Mustelier, the crematorium reduced Muñoz's body to ashes instead. The mistake was Alkhalifa's fault, Bello asserts. "Supposedly, these bodies that were ship-outs were not supposed to be there."

Alkhalifa did not discover the mistake until after the wrong ashes were delivered to Mustelier's family. "When we got the permit to take Yetsiyel to Cuba, I went to get him out of the freezer," Bello says. "What I found in the freezer was Mustelier."

Upon learning about the horrible mixup, Alkhalifa decided to ship Mustelier's body inside a coffin to the Muñoz family in Cuba, Bello testifies. "It occurred to [Alkhalifa] to send a black guy to Cuba because supposedly [Yetsiyel] was not going to be viewed by his family because his face had been smashed." Alkhalifa is "the one who makes the decisions, and anything that you do at the funeral home, you have to run it by him first," Bello says.

Shortly after the wrong body was purposely sent to Cuba, Bello says, Alkhalifa fired him when he tried to collect $700 in unpaid wages. "I said to him: 'If you don't pay me my money, I'm going to call the police on you right now,'" Bello recalls. "I worked with him for almost eight years with very bad pay. We've had quite a few arguments over the payment for the $18,000 he owes me from the labor department."

He has seen Alkhalifa employ all kinds of dirty parlor-room trickery to avoid paying anyone, Bello testifies. "He will, for example, use a cleaning lady for two weeks, and then when it comes time to pay that cleaning lady, he already has others waiting in line to replace her."

Alkhalifa is so cheap, Bello claims, that when he closes the chapel doors at night after a viewing, "the flowers stay inside and they recycle them."

The morning of Tuesday, August 10, Alkhalifa rushes from Funeraria Latina's rain-soaked parking lot into the reception area. Dressed in a white shirt with purple checks, a purple and red print tie, and a navy blue suit with a vibrant red rosebud pinned to the lapel, Alkhalifa takes a seat next to two Hispanic ladies who have been waiting for him. The older of the women has just lost her husband, and her daughter is there to help make funeral arrangements. The pair listens raptly as Alkhalifa explains how he will charge them $5,600 for everything, from the casket to the embalming and dressing of the body to the hearse and limo to the cemetery plot. Then comes the kicker.

"I can get you the plot next to your husband for another $3,200," Alkhalifa pitches. "Right now, you go to the cemetery and they will sell it to you for $3,995. They will also charge you 9 percent annual interest if you finance it."

The daughter says her father had life insurance, so money is not really an issue, but her mother is not ready to put money down on her grave. "You know funeral homes love it when you say it's not about the money," Alkhalifa tells them. "Down the road, she may need what she ends up saving if she gets the plot from me."

They agree to go with him to the cemetery to see the plots.

Alkhalifa excuses himself to meet with a reporter to answer questions about the lawsuits and complaints against him. He quickly paces toward his office and shakes hands with two more potential clients before he closes the door behind him. The phone rings. He picks up the receiver. It's someone asking about prices. Alkhalifa launches into his spiel: "I will do it all for $5,600. You will not find anyone who can beat that."

After a couple of minutes, he hangs up and turns his attention to the reporter. "Look, anybody can sue anybody," he rationalizes. "Everybody sues funeral homes because they think funeral homes have money, and it is easy to sue funeral homes because funeral homes are the only exception to the tort reform law."

Funeral homes are sued with impunity, Alkhalifa adds. "People think they can get money by crying in court," he says. "They say they can't work because they are so distraught. Juries buy this BS."

Regarding Bello's deposition, Alkhalifa dismisses him as nothing more than a disgruntled ex-employee who was not truthful about how the bodies of Yetsiyel Muñoz and Marcos Mustelier were mixed up. The funeral home owner insists he had a business arrangement with Gold Coast Crematory to store bodies there. Alkhalifa says Muñoz's remains were in a box that was clearly marked "stored for voyage to Cuba." He adds that it was an employee at Gold Coast who "didn't bother to look at the toe tag," which would have confirmed it was Muñoz. "They gave us Mustelier instead," Alkhalifa says. "Really, we didn't mess up, but you have to take some responsibility. We are working to get a settlement from Gold Coast."

Despite the litigation and accusations against him, he still pulls in customers, Alkhalifa boasts. "If this funeral home was so bad, I wouldn't have people knocking on my door," he says. "I've already signed seven new clients this morning. I don't turn anyone away. If all you have is $2,000, I'll take it. I won't let you walk out."

If anything, he is a victim of his own success, Alkhalifa says. "When I bought a Bentley, I couldn't enjoy it," he grouses. "When you have money in this city, everyone wants a piece of it."

Alkhalifa gets up from his chair. He adjusts the rosebud on his lapel so that it sticks straight up. He walks into the reception area, where he greets a new round of potential customers.

Show Pages
My Voice Nation Help

May I have your attention?


 Tabloid probe sparks spat AND response The revival of an investigation USING tabloid tactics has turned in a battle between rival funeral establishments. Allegations against NATIONAL FUNERAL HOMES provoked a response

BY the homes owned by  S.  Rafaiy  Alkhalifa:

“Has this story  been free of any whiff of Bias or has it been tainted by a vested

Interest in its outcome. The reader should be the judge.”


The custom of cozy arrangements by news tabloids that conduct investigations and then wait for police to make arrests are long gone like press BARS of yesteryear. I have never feared what tabloids may do. I came to Miami spotless, and after playing with the rabid dogs of Miami, I have acquired a spot on my pedigree. Miami does it to a lot of trusting newcomers. Move to Miami with your beautiful family and you lose them. Here people have even lost their lives. I’m contented that I'm alive and kicking. Some people make news, some people like to make news, I say to them CARRY ON Do your worst-- be vicious:  readers aghast. I do say it in the words of LAO TSU:


Today New Times have changed. This Lean New Times is a small town news section in a big city. A BIG city that does not know how to carry a BIG stick and project kindness. Thank God that New Times  influence on Miami public life  is small .Reminds me when Journalists and Hacks, whose  noisy assaults  in the home market ( with light investments of time and purse )  sat drinking with paralegals, corrupt police,  and aspiring lawyers  in the press bars  to discuss dead cases.

It was not long ago that this very New Times reporters and photographer accompanied me to visit CUBA to produce an article on CUBANS RETURNING WITH THEIR DEAD TO BE INTERRED IN CUBA.  This same New Times wrote this non compelling story which my fellow BRITS would call NINCOMPOOP- programmed to accuse. I accuse the New Times of conflict of interest in taking on its staff, a paralegal who represents the legal firm of the plaintiff in a suit against one of my companies, to use contents of a deposition (privy only to the Law firms) of a case that is still in discovery stages and has not yet been litigated in the courts. Could this information influence members of a jury pool who has now only heard one side of the story? Is the New Times seeking sensational August fillers for a readership lift? This same Tabloid would tell you that the story is a follow-up to a story of 2001 vintage? Do we need a hurricane to clear away all the BULL from New time’s vaults?  Yet they know not what they have been doing in vilifying and slandering a company that has an advertisement on the back page of the same week's paper.  The hypocrisy of  of taking ad revenue from a company that is considered so naughty  may not seem so unjustified by the New Times. In German we would say NEW TIMES SCHAFFT  SICH AB- In English it would read New Times  does away with itself.

So much for press veracity, Mr. FRANCISCO ALVARADO is trying to build a reputation of one of Miami's top investigative reporters, but by enlisting help from a law firm  with a vested interest in seeing my company's demise. In Latin I would say to him--  Honi sort qui no mal y pense (Shame on him who thinks this no evil) Is his portrayal characterably a piece of sociological fieldwork. He is an aggregator of news  (they die by the pen) who does not  source  his own story, or check facts independently. bulldozing and hacking  is not for  our times - new or old. That type of reporting I left behind in London and is the mainstay of the Rupert Murdoch  tabloid  NEWS OF THE WORLD  now being tarnished for sleazy  phone tapping  of private citizens. Now for the rebuttal ………..    MY TURN



First here is your moron of the week:  Mr. Verl Shaw


A person who may  suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a rigid pattern of behavior that drives a lifelong quest of self gratification blue eyed self righteous, five hundred pound wheel chair bound, self appointed interceptor and overseer of the funeral industry in Miami Dade/Broward. General Manager of Allen and Shaw Crematorium located in a warehouse section in the heart of OPALOCKA . He does not own this facility, because convicted felons are not allowed by the state of Florida to operate funeral homes or crematories. It was for a while in his wife's name until she  was deceased  a few years back....A way to get around the Law.

Look into the blue eyes of this  JUMBO  and you will see a convicted child molester - a pedophile who with a group of  associates were convicted of carnal lascivious acts  against children in Tampa in the mid 80's. He came to Miami and changed his life after a stint in prison and five years of probation.  You will not find anything on this man in the criminal files as this computer

whiz big kid has been able, by some means, to hide all information of his obnoxious

criminal behavior. All  investments properties he owns have been rendered ‘judgment proof’

and placed in trust, so he cannot be sued.

Somehow his files are sealed and he has not registered as a child molester in the states list of pedophiles. Do you for any reason believe this man, that I would go into his  dirty pungent dungeon facility, a facility that looks like a blacksmith's shop  of  a century ago, (You wouldn't want to cremate your dog there)  and tell him what to do about his business of cremating human remains?  

His wife was responsible for that facility and everything that goes on there, NOT I ; NOT I, They, who own and operate the facility must double check all relevant id's and paperwork before they undertake to cremate a human body.  That  is  the law! How could I,  in my right mind, and I am indeed very SANE, try to cremate two persons in the same box and have access to someone else's facility  to perpetuate such a criminal act?

Does anyone believe this bunkum (stupidity, nonsense)? Would not two skeletons, (two skulls, four feet, two sets of the rib cages,) show up after the cremation process,? and how would I explain that if I, indeed,  tried to outwit  him (that is something the Mafia would do ) wouldn’t be incarcerated for life? If I played that role, the FBI and all law enforcement agencies would be on my sweet little derriere.

M. Shaw, however, has been placing two bodies wrapped in cellophane  into one box to  save space in his coolers for the deceased. Made sense to him as he lacked cooler space in the early years of his business. I witnessed that act repeatedly.


Mr. Shaw, who has been the recipient of a  Dade county contract to cremate  the indigent, (people with no means), has now lost his very lucrative contract -because of greed, hiking the price he charged the County. He was also accused by  Dade county of double billing indigent families for transportation of human remains.


Remember this word  INDIGENT = POOR

A Broward funeral establishment has been successful in bidding for the contract.

Now Mr. Shaw is nursing three cold cremation units with no work as most Funeral establishments will not do business with his facility.  He sells his services for $495

for a cremation service. My company offers cremation process services for $395  in a very modern clean facility  where you could literally eat off the floor -  I  mean it's that clean.

Does anyone out there understand why this blue eyed JUMBO would be interested in my demise even when I was his client prior to 2001, bringing to him over 40 cases per month?  He  grudgingly wanted that business for himself. He has complained to the State  Dept of FINANCIAL SERVICES  (who overseas this industry) on every  competitor  and tries to put them out of business.

-He has not been successful in doing that to me . -

Somehow calling me a scumbag  does not fit Mr. Shaw-- Pox on you. Please Invite the public to examine your facilities -They will certainly PUKE. An investigation into this affair, as notified by Shaw  to the  State, went nowhere NADA .



The story of Yetsiel - the young man who committed suicide off a five story building.


His body face, badly disfigured, was a closed casket funeral,  and the body sent to a storage facility owned by Memorial plan  SERVICE CORPORATION  with whom I contracted to store deceased remains for shipment overseas and for cremation services.

Unfortunately  the wrong remains was removed from the cooler facility by an employee who did not read or understand Spanish. The licensed operator of the crematorium who is Hispanic was not at work that day and procedures were not followed by their staff. Identifications placed on the remains by the medical examiner's office were not checked and rechecked as it is the norm.

A mistake happened, and instead of paying the family for the mistake, SCI Memorial Plan, owners of the facility known as Gold coast crematorium, is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the case with the  high priced law firm of HUDSON in the city of Miami.  This is the same company, SCI,  that gave you the horrible story of staff digging graves in the Jewish cemeteries  ( MENORAH) in Broward and Palm Beach, and tossing the bones in the forested area and reselling the grave sites by a manager who committed suicide .

 Black is  Black no doubt about it.

This case is in the course of depositions, and  Memorial Plan which has now changed their name to DIGNITY,  will spend half a million dollars to defend , instead of settling with the family, the same monies they are spending paying high priced lawyers.

The depositions regarding this case are private until trial , yet information of these depositions found their way in the horror article of this tabloid . Unethical I say ? Imagine your legal depositions been licked out by the plaintiff’s assistant to the media. Second moron of the week :

Gabriel Bello 

Convicted thief, many times Batterer of women, arrested and convicted numerous times for  Battery,  was terminated not because he was owed monies, but because he, with unfailing regularity would pad his time sheet and rob the company of its purse.

He was confronted finally and told to redo his time sheets.

Flew into a rage, broke down a door in my establishment, and the police  took him away.

The battered woman in his last foray to prison was the facility cleaner who had just arrived from Cuba,  and he met her WHERE? at the funeral establishment. Mr. Bello, with unfailing regularity was warned by myself to stop sexually harassing the women who cleaned my facilities. The non fact he stated that cleaning women were not paid. Hogwash >The management and working staff of all my facilities are women,  from the general manager to the cleaner, --all women-- payroll prepared by payroll company.

 Would  my general manager - a highly regarded woman, working there for 10 years,  short change a fellow Cuban woman?  I don’t think so. His info about myself and my companies, paraded in these pages, are nothing but blather. This man is totally uneducated, never even attended a primary school. Hardly speaks any language properly. It is known in the annals of Business Management of small and large enterprises, that  employee mistakes could ruin a company, its finances, its very existence.  REMEMBER VALUE JET? 



I AM, INDEED, A VICTIM OF THIS PROBLEM. And so are  many other business owners in Miami.


Serving over  750 families per year , we do have times where mistakes are made by employees, and for that,  I take full responsibility. I have paid my dues in that respect, much to my chagrin. Five complaints per year that are always fully investigated by the Dept of Financial Services, and we are asked to resolve them.

A few ended up in court, ,but they were resolved  to mutual understanding at mediation. That  is why the courts order a mediation. Claimants wanting hundreds of thousands of dollars  never  got more than dimes on the dollar.



Mr. Porter,  who contributed to the article,  has been trying to sue everyone connected with the death of his so called aunt (no relationship was ever established). He sued a transportation company for close to a million dollars for a fall  she received while being transported in an ambulance, claiming the fall as the reason of death. Court records show he got a big donut. 


Next, he claimed that my company delivered her cremains (ASHES)  to the wrong party. The party who presented identification for the receipt of cremains is presumed dead, but all documentation leads to the fact that the dead person, who walked into our establishment, ( Dead man walking ) hailed from the same city in Columbia, (Medellin,) where  the deceased and all of her family originated. They even said it was a coincidence.

Someone calling to pick up the ashes claiming to be a son, showed up with fake ID and then the family told us it wasn't  a family member who received the ashes. That Porter, or whatever he calls himself, PUERTAS, RESTREPO,   or other names he may have used,  was  domiciled for some time in the same locales that the  dead man walking lived,  in Massachusetts, then later moved to Florida , and guess what?  Mr. Puertas (Porter ) also lived in MASS and then moved to MIA.  Some coincidence! 


Why in the world would anyone who is not related to a deceased person would want to recover the ashes of  a person unknown to him/her?  MR. Porter's former attorney requested a settlement 3 years ago from our  struggling company of half a million dollars. He settled for $41,000  two weeks ago , the cost of bringing the suit. I personally  felt robbed, the total cost with legal fees $90,000-- but I must move on. I felt I was scammed. Mr. Porter tried to suppress information we discovered, that his aunt was incarcerated in the mid 80's  with 25 other defendants, charged by the FEDS with cocaine distributing, trafficking,  and money laundering.  Guess who bailed her out of Federal prison  --no other than MR. Clean himself,  GEORGE PORTER PUERTAS Or whatever his name is.  Trying to get rich on Mrs. Vega's deceased remains.


His ex wife stated he worked with the immigration dept. The documents of the dead man walking  who  recovered the ashes presented  immigration papers dating 1994, when I was not even in the funeral business. How we would come to fake a Columbian Medellin born individual and then present that ID to support our case?  It is definitely not believable  -- utter nincompoop.  Under what circumstances would I have been able to recover immigration documents from a Columbian person who died in 1994 and who was in Mass.  and Florida?  Mr. Porter was in those territories at those times.  “Birds of a feather flock together,” they say, for myself knowing anyone from Medellin Columbia is hard to put.

I am  putting to you my readership that Mr. Porter  knows something else transpired in this episode  and I will find the missing link – I’m not finished.  Amen.



Another person who provokes a response from me is this Mr. Torres.

Mr. Torres could not afford the burial of his father. He literally had NO MONEY. His sister, who is employed by an attorney,  paid for a direct burial for his father.  A  direct burial, for your information,  is exactly what it states,  --no visitation--   no preparation of the  deceased. The same condition he is when removed  from the forensic department, that is the way he is placed in a casket and transported to  the cemetery where the funeral director meets with the family,  NO SERVICES WHATSOEVER. 

Miss Torres asked if she could have a few minutes to ID her father. We granted her request at no cost. Her contract specifically stated everything we were to perform which she signed and received a copy. GUESS WHAT? Over 60,   well dressed persons,  showed up at the funeral for a Funeral Service.  What funeral?  She did not buy the services for a funeral,  an ID is not a Funeral Service.

First, her father was brought in  and placed in a  metal casket for a regular person of,  say,  250 pounds. His weight was 350 and more pounds, no one told us he was overweight, he  could hardly be placed in a regular casket. His abdomen was touching the top of the casket. We were forced to remove the metal bed that is in a casket and lower him all the way to the bottom flooring of the casket.  Did he fit?   --barely.  Was his body prepared for a viewing by 60 persons? NO . When we protested that the service now requested  could not take place,   they fell into a rage. I thought they were ready to lynch myself and staff. They were noisy -they were ugly. Called the police, but the police could do nothing,   as the police officer reviewed the contract and  confirmed to the family that what they were asking for,  was indeed not in the contract and not paid for. Four hours later,  after having accommodated them and fixed the remains to a viewable position,  they left.  Still,

Mr. Torres wanted his sister's money back. The sister did not request a refund,  it was him who wanted monies he had not paid. Remember Miss Torres works for an attorney.  She kept on telling me that she worked for an attorney, “ I work for an attorney.”  I must say that she was  a rather decent person to deal  with.  After suing my company and litigating for 4 years, they wanted $100,000, they settled for $2,500. (And she works for a lawyer.)


Mr. Torres: What have you done for the Cuban community- your community- since you attained manhood? Anything at all?

Yes! The Cuban people loves me. I am the one who, since 1995, has buried, not cremated all the Balseros and Balseras who died on the shores of Florida and Mexico.  I am the one who takes care of all the political prisoners of Cuba who are now dying every week because of their age. I am the one who buried all of the  dead who were washed ashore with Elian Gonzalez.  All of these services were performed by my companies and staff for FREE, GRATIS, FOR NOTHING!  They went to Cuban owned Funeral establishments and what they got was a big NO for an answer. Cuban Funeral Homes Owners die very rich.



ALL MY MANAGEMENT AND MAJORITY OF STAFFING ARE WOMEN AND CUBAN, WHO KNOW THEIR  PEOPLE.  THEY WOULD NEVER ALLOW ME , IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM,  ABUSE THE FAMILIES THAT WALK THRU OUR DOORS . I DO MAKE THE BEST CUBAN COFFEE (SO THEY SAY) TAKE THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT----- MR. TORRES. And to make you rest in peace Mr. Torres, this business of selling low cost funerals is not a profitable venture. Never has, and now more than ever with cremations hitting over 60%. I have invested my family's PURSE in this adventure,  and I will never get it back. It’s  not about me, it has never been about me , its about serving our people, the Latin people,  and I am Latin, Sir. I WAS BORN IN SOUTH AMERICA,  I speak your language and everyone  else's.

The reason your family chose my company to inter your father, is because you were recommended and you knew you were paying much less than other Cuban funeral establishments -  You chose us after canvassing prices. You had issues with us  and for this I am truly sorry.  You did receive services for what you paid, and now your sister is getting back what you paid my company.  In fact,  I got nothing for providing services and merchandise. My loss,  your gain.



Finally,  in terms of the pre need debacle  wherein I was taken to court, no families lost any monies. The company was owned by my former wife.  However, I took responsibility and all moneys have been paid back, and  as I said earlier,  I had put the trust of running a PRE NEED program to a person I had met at GRACELAND CEMETERIES. This Man a JUAN RAMOS has STOLEN MONIES from Lady of Mercy CEMETERIES, SOUTHERN MEMORIAL,  and GRACELAND CEMETERIES, where he worked before the advent of my company. He stole from my former wife company BIG TIME, a calculating schemer and fraudster, and vagabond, even defrauded his employees, who defrauded Cuban families and gave the money to him to stash in a fraudulent account he created. He now lives in a million dollar home in Coconut Grove bought with  stolen funds , and lucky for him, Florida protects CROOKS of  every hue and color by something called the Homestead act. Even if my former wife receives a judgment against him, she cannot be repaid.   One thing for sure,  he will die in that house. He cannot move. I took the fall for that vagabond who still works in  the Financial field, selling insurance  --but its not my job to police that RAT. HE WORKS UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE DEPT OF INSURANCE. As I mentioned  earlier,  IF you have a business BIG or Small,  your employees could take you down  by mistakes, and they do . I AM A VICTIM. Remember doctors ,hospitals restaurant, car dealers, dentists, psychoanalysts, teachers, LAWYERS,  schools, and  governments  are sued. Mistakes are made  and the piper pays ...that does not mean we all do not strive to do better. WE do, WE fail sometimes,  and when we fail,  we do not expect that it be heralded on TV TABLOIDS.  THE RIGHTEOUS MEDIA WHICH ITSELF GETS SUED ALL THE TIME FOR LIBEL AND SLANDER, AND WHICH ALWAYS RUN A CORRECTIONS COLUMN.  EVERY COMPLAINT PRESENTED IN THIS MEDIA NEW TIMES ARTICLE WAS INVESTIGATED BY THE STATE AND WERE ANSWERED BY MY COMPANIES. MOST OF THE TIME  THEY WERE DISMISSED,  NO ACTION TAKEN . DO THEY DO THEIR JOB OF OVERSEEING THIS INDUSTRY?  ( NEW TIMES DUG UP THESE CASES FROM 1996- OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLE) YES! AND THAT'S WHY EVERY FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENT MUST HAVE IN ITS FACILITY  --A COMPLAINT BOOK AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC. MY FACILITIES HAVE IT  AT THE FRONT ENTRANCE.  SINCE JANUARY 2010   NO COMPLAINTS THAT WERE NOT ADDRESSED INTERNALLY, LEFT OUR EARS.


There are Jihadists in our city, no better definition for them  They hate reason, they hate intellect, they hate life and everything in it  A certain amount of self regard is healthy but when narcissism is pathological -the results can be frightening . There are symptoms, but there is no cure!







@RafaiyAlkhalifa  In reading all your nonsensical drivel it is easy for one to conclude that there is definately something wrong with you and your businesses. Funeral Homes operating within the confines of the law do not encounter such publicity without foundation. There is no doubt that you are a fast talker with the morals of some used car saleman. Your funeral operation is a disgusting mess, unsanitary and not in keeping with the decorum expected for the dead. Why would you hire an alcoholic and allow him to sleep on a matttress on the floor in your establishment? You are responsible for your staff. Indeed you are without the professional ethical requirement of a funeral director.

Miami Concert Tickets