| Columns |

Claims Piling Up on Funeral Home Owner Rafaiy Alkhalifa

​ When Lazaro Morera's father passed away October 29, the unemployed Cuban-American thought he had the funeral covered. He was wrong. Despite having paid $2,540 to Funeraria Latina Nacional at 151 NW 37th Ave. for his dad's prearranged burial six years ago, the funeral home's owner, Rafaiy Alkhalifa, would not honor the contract,  Morera claims. 
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

"He told me that there were other funeral homes I could go to," Morera says, recounting his meeting with Alkhalifa the morning his dad died. "He told me honoring the contract would be a burden for him."

The funeral home owner referred Morera to the Department of Financial Services, which oversees the monies Alkhalifa has been paying back the state after pleading no contest in 2005 to stealing $500,000 from Florida's preneed trust fund, which allows families to finance funerals through a down payment and monthly installments. Alkhalifa had been ordered to give the fund $150,000 and was barred from selling prearranged funeral services. But department officials told Morera there was only $800 in the trust account.

Upset, Morera, who was laid off in June and whose wife has been on maternity leave for three months, confronted Alkhalifa at his office inside Funeraria Latina. "He kept complaining that he had already been crucified by the state," Morera recalls. "He called his probation officer on the phone, screamed at her to tell me that he doesn't need to honor the contract."

Alkhalifa, whose sketchy business practices were chronicled in a Miami New Times cover story this past August 26, declined to comment. In a previous interview, Alkhalifa emphatically denied wrongdoing, blaming the theft from the fund on a former employee who had opened a separate bank account to deposit customers' checks. "Instead of putting the money in a trust account, it went to him," Alkhalifa said. "Since it was my business license, the state came after me."

On November 1, Morera filed a complaint with the financial services division against Alkhalifa and was informed that Funeraria's owner is facing a disciplinary hearing December 2 for other consumer complaints. Department spokeswoman Nina Ashley says she cannot comment about pending investigations.

Meanwhile, Morera says he had to borrow $3,100 from family and friends to bury his father with Vior Funeral Home, which is located next door to Alkhalifa's place. "This guy is preying on the Hispanic community," Morera seethes. "He should be put out of business."

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.