State closes Dent's Undertaking

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The doors to the historic Dent's Undertaking Establishment were locked this week by the state's Department of Revenue.

State tax collectors swept in Monday to close the city's oldest black-owned funeral home.

The business can reopen, however, if the owners pay the $142,334 it owes the state for sales taxes, said Charles Willey, the spokesman for the Department of Revenue.

The funeral home was founded by John and Julia Dent in 1888, family members have told The Augusta Chronicle in past reports. The business has remained in the Dent family since.

Dent's has a history of tax difficulties going back to the mid-1990s, Mr. Willey said.

According to state and county records, liens have repeatedly been placed on the funeral home to collect federal, state and local taxes.

If the current balance is not paid, the Department of Revenue could take possession of all personal property inside the D'Antignac Street funeral home, Mr. Willey said. No date for such action has been set.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. According to property records, it is valued at $284,636 and is in the name of Frank Griffin, the funeral director.

The sales tax is considered a trust tax that businesses collect and send to the state, Mr. Willey said. The state keeps 4 percent and sends the rest back to the county, he said.

A person answering the phone at Dent's who didn't want to be identified said Tuesday that the owners are working to raise the money to pay off the tax debt. They hope to accomplish that today.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

BUSINESS STAYED IN THE FAMILY


- Family members told The Chronicle in past reports that Dent's Undertaking Establishment was founded by John and Julia Dent in 1888. Mr. Dent learned embalming at Platt's Funeral Home because at that time blacks weren't allowed to attend embalming school programs for whites.


- Dent's moved from Broad Street to D'Antignac Street in 1900.


- Mr. Dent died in 1911, and his wife, Julia, took over the funeral home. Mrs. Dent died in 1945. The Dents' son-in-law, Thomas H. Ketch Sr., who married their only daughter, took over the funeral home. Mr. Ketch led the company until his death in 1985. His daughters, Thomasina Ketch and Juliette Burton, took over the family business.


- In 1990, the funeral home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source: Augusta Chronicle archives

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goodworker
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Points
goodworker 07/23/08 - 11:47 pm
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now this is for all of the

now this is for all of the people who are talking about this subject but dont know what they're talking about. first of all this is not a racial issue, this is simply a case where the irs wants what they feel is their's point blank. secondly frank griffin is the best person you'll ever meet in your life whenever someone needed something he was right there to help. historic dent's unertaking establishment should remain in business. but all in all stop making assumptions and giving your opinion if you want to know something call 706-722-4809 so then you can speak truth. i love that place it was a second home to me even some days i couldn't stand it anymore i would bend over backwards for anyone there. and this is coming from one of dent's employees so remember if you want to know something call the number and stop speading rumors but we will be back and when we do best believe that we will be stronger than ever. when only memories remain, let them be beautiful

footz
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footz 07/24/08 - 01:47 am
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It seems like all have an

It seems like all have an opinion so here is mine. Dent's Funeral Home has been mis-managed by the office manager, Frank Griffin, for a very long time. Ms. Ketch and Ms. Burton made a bad business judgement placing someone who has no knowledge of business management in charge over their business. Frank Griffin thought of nobody but himself in this matter and you can see that from the several different cars he has driven and the house he live in, which is and has been in forclosure more than once. So Frank Griffin is not a good stewart over his own money or the money he mis-manage at Dent's. So he may be a good guy to some, but he was awful to the elderly owners of Dent's. They trusted him to handle their business affairs correctly and he failed miserably. I pray Dent's will persuit, overtake and recover all, but when they do, Frank Griffin does not need to be a part of it. There were alot of good workers at Dent's and maybe one of them should have been placed over the establishment instead.

kat30815
14
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kat30815 07/24/08 - 03:20 am
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i have no sympathy for

i have no sympathy for funeral homes that can't pay their bills. if you ever saw an invoice for a funeral, you would know theres some bogus, pure profit charges. not to say they shouldn't make money, but don't gouge the customer.
mays mortuary is another business i feel no pity for. i've worked on their funeral limos and such. i'd rather walk than ride in their vehicles.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 07/24/08 - 07:36 am
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GOLDIE53, talk about

GOLDIE53, talk about ignorance. IMHO it was not nescessary to point out that Dents was Black owned. All that does is allow the racist to make statements like, what do they expect an hand out or so do they think they do not have to pay taxes because they are Black? You can post whatever you like and I reserve the right to comment on it. You can use all the excuses you want, the biggest problem with our youths is lack of respect for others and that I am owed mentality.

firefigthenhamer
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firefigthenhamer 07/24/08 - 07:38 am
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Think I will go trolling

Think I will go trolling today for some big lipped savannah river pond suckers with little fish syndrome!

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 07/24/08 - 07:40 am
0
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KAT, I doubt you will be able

KAT, I doubt you will be able to walk when your time comes.

karmakills123
12
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karmakills123 07/24/08 - 07:42 am
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The State of Greorgia is

The State of Greorgia is after Dents not the IRS. Most states agressivley seek out ALL businesses that do not pay their sales tax....SC will shut you down and fine you out the yen-yang.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 07/24/08 - 07:51 am
0
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I see someone is suffering

I see someone is suffering from little man complex, early this morning. I think it time for you to take a refresher course on racist 101. Only you ilk gives a D, what you think.@7:38am post.

firefigthenhamer
0
Points
firefigthenhamer 07/24/08 - 07:52 am
0
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Dang, haven't been on the

Dang, haven't been on the river 15 mins and have already caught me a plump big lipped sucker with a little fish syndrome. Just used a tad of a night crawler and along came ol big lips.

freespeech
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freespeech 07/24/08 - 08:16 am
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Of course they collected the

Of course they collected the revenue, if they didn't they wouldn't owe the taxes. The tuth be known - they probably owe a lot more in taxes, but cheated and lied on the returns.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 07/24/08 - 08:17 am
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That was sorry. I know they

That was sorry. I know they taught you better than that. If you are going to make racist comments, at least make them good one. What a pathetic loser.

Reality
3
Points
Reality 07/24/08 - 08:50 am
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I am sure they were paid for

I am sure they were paid for services, even the entitlement crowd will have the government to pay for the burial.....Pay what you owe or get closed...

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 07/24/08 - 09:00 am
0
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The " entitlement crowd " are

The " entitlement crowd " are usually buried at the city cemetary, they may pay a funeral home to embalm them but you had better believe at a cheap price.

karmakills123
12
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karmakills123 07/24/08 - 09:11 am
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Who ever is doing the

Who ever is doing the accounting for Dents is the person responsible for this ..State sales tax is an "honor" tax and you are given a lot of leeway...however if you purchase something for your business to resell( such as coffins) you must pay tax on the purchase...if you have a coke machine in your lobby and you remove the money from that machine...you owe tax on every can you sell.....anyway I believe thats pretty much how it works.....

crazyoldman
21
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crazyoldman 07/24/08 - 09:11 am
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Why didn’t Richmond County

Why didn’t Richmond County get them first?

Reality
3
Points
Reality 07/24/08 - 09:12 am
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I don't know about this

I don't know about this particular place but most funeral homes are a big ripoff. Life insurance usually pays at least $10,000, the funeral home will make sure that their costs are $10,000 for a simple burial...They will also collect your check from the ins. company for you to sign over to them for services rendered..

firefigthenhamer
0
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firefigthenhamer 07/24/08 - 09:17 am
0
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Tell everybody, the ol

Tell everybody, the ol savannah river pond suckers are bitin mighty good. Just throw out a hook, they are easy, re 0817.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 07/24/08 - 09:21 am
0
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What an idiot. Waste of air.

What an idiot. Waste of air.

corgimom
51848
Points
corgimom 07/24/08 - 09:40 am
0
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The IRS didn't shut them

The IRS didn't shut them down, the GA Dept of Revenue did. There's a difference. It wasn't income taxes, it was taxes that individuals paid that Dent's was supposed to collect and pay to the state. And the GA Dept of Revenue gives people lots of chances and will work with a company; but if a business ignores them, the Dept of Rev will shut them down in a hurry. Nothing gets a business' attention like a padlock on the door. Notice how they said people are raising money to pay the taxes? Well, why couldn't they raise the money BEFORE they got shut down? Because it wasn't a crisis and they still were operating.

ladyN
0
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 09:59 am
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I really can't believe some

I really can't believe some of the stuff I am reading. For the employee who's so loyal as to have the phone number to this establishment given so that they could answer any questions the public may have, this is pure ignorance. No employee should be answering questions such as the ones asked. The bottom line is this, Mr. Griffin swindled those people out of their business. No matter how great you think he was or is, he took advantage of the elderly and misused funds. People entrusted him with their loved ones. People have paid for pre-needs that will never be honored because he's misused the money. How dare you stand up and talk about how good this man is. He's a disgrace. Now, there is one employee there that should have been handling things but enough faith and trust wasn't place in his hands. All of the warning signs that this was going to happen have been there but was ignored. This had to happen so that Mr. Griffin can be removed as the obstacle he is and so that Dent's can serve the community in the way it was established to do. My heart goes out to all of them including the community. There are times when God has to pull the covers in order that he can work

cantbelieveit
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cantbelieveit 07/24/08 - 09:59 am
0
0
Simple Math: You do not pay

Simple Math: You do not pay taxes, you get closed down. Nothing to do with race at all... we all have to pay taxes and if you don't you should be punished. 1+1=2

footz
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footz 07/24/08 - 10:18 am
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It's not pure ignorance for

It's not pure ignorance for that employee or anyone else for that matter to be concerned for the family members or individuals to call and ask questions concerning business related matters. This establishment closed down due to nonpayment of taxes. that raises a red flag for anyone who has prepaid monies on funerals that know nothing about the funeral business. Customers want to know what's going on. You never know if Dent's had the remains of somebody's love one at the time they were shut down let alone the pre-needs you mentioned. So cudos !!! to that dedicated worker that's answering the Dent's Undertaking Establishment phone line they probably should have been the one Ms. Ketch placed in charge in the beginning and maybe this would have never happen. At least that employee cares enough to do this not to mention probably without pay. I do agree with everything said about Frank Griffin though. He did take advantage of the elderly and totally misused funds which is pathetic.

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 10:27 am
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Footz, please do not

Footz, please do not misunderstand me. I have nothing but respect for that dedicated employee. However, this is coming from someone who's in the IRS business. This employee's answers should be very limited to anyone calling and asking questions about services paid for. Mr. Griffin was in the business of swindling the elderly and anyone else he could use to continue to maintain his lavish lifestyle. This employee has doesn't know 100% how deep this employee has not clue of how deep this man could have this company. So, he can greatly show concern for the people who have put their trust in Dent's without getting himself in trouble with words, promises and comittments. I'm sure this person has gone without pay. Because this employee's heart was with the funeral home not with making money. So, this is not an attack on the employee but a warning that they should not be taking responsibility for committments Mr. Griffin has made to these people. It's easy to allow your emotions to start dictating what happens in a situation like this. Again, Mr. Griffin was an obstacle that God Himself had to move. The warning signs were there.

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 10:35 am
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Please forgive all of the

Please forgive all of the mistypes in the previous message by me. However, I wanted to reinerate on something. The Employee whom I feel in my heart is more than dedicated and comitted to the community of Augusta should be standing at the appropriate place at the appropriate time to bid on this business when it goes up for sale. Whether you'll want to accept it or not, at this point that is the best solution. Mr. Griffin is the owner, he swindled the place from Ms. Ketch. Who in their right mind would put up the money to get them out of this situation only to have Frank Griffin in charge again? The IRS can't force Mr. Griffin to sign over owenership to anyone. However, whoever buys it can kick him out as he should be. Give Dent's a fresh new start. God is a God of a second chance. I do not believe in my heart that this is the end of Dent's but it should be the end of Frank Griffin's career there. It is my prayer that God will humble his spirit enough to think and feel beyond himself by giving up ownership and allowing someone to come in and save this historical company.

footz
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footz 07/24/08 - 10:41 am
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Sorry LadyM, I didn't

Sorry LadyM, I didn't misunderstand you. I'm just putting myself in anyone shoes who may've prepaid Dent's any money. I know when my father passed away if something like this would have happen at the establishment we chose to handle arrangements, we would have been furious and trying to call someone to find out what's going on. I do understand that employee should watch what they are saying. As a matter of fact Frank Griffin should be doing this himself, but when you are exposed and brought into the light for all to see, the guilt and shame makes you crawl under a rock to hide.

LynxRHot
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LynxRHot 07/24/08 - 10:41 am
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justus needs to read the

justus needs to read the article more closely. So what if they are shut down. The article states that the business REPEATEDLY failed to pay state taxes. Perhaps the only argument he can stand on is that because they are black, they forgot to pay...if so, then his argument about a minority business stands. Otherwise, get over it.

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 10:52 am
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I agree Frank Griffin should

I agree Frank Griffin should be the one answering the phones but he hasn't humbled himself enough to do that. As a matter of fact he's probably still trying to come up with another scheme. He probably doesn't realize that God allowed this to happen so that not only Dent's can be saved but so that he can get from under the pressure of the lies and deceit and begin to live again. Even, in his situation God is still waiting to give him a second chance and in all of my frustration I will not forget that he's in a position where he needs mercy and compassion, whether we think he deserves it or not. I've witnessed so many funeral homes back home go through this same thing. Pre-needs sold and having to be honored by other funeral homes because of situations like this. What we must realize also is that Morticians from the old school have a horrible way of doing business. They do not realize that you can't conduct business the way they did 50 years ago, there are employment laws they must govern by and don't. There's no longer that I keep all my money in my pocket and don't pay taxes. Most of them have that old school mentality that's destroying them.

footz
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footz 07/24/08 - 10:52 am
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OOOH SHUT UP !!! LynxRHot.

OOOH SHUT UP !!! LynxRHot. I'm sick of the black comments. Grow up why dont you. We can make a change. GO BARACK OBAMA !!!

footz
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footz 07/24/08 - 10:58 am
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LadyM I like you and I pray

LadyM I like you and I pray with you Dent's can recover and because you're in the IRS business I respect your knowledge and I agree Dent's should have new start and hopefully the dedicated employee can obtain ownership and place the establishment back in its respected place.

stumpjumper
2
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stumpjumper 07/24/08 - 11:01 am
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If they can procrastinate

If they can procrastinate long enough, Obama & Hillary and the rest of the liberals will find some type of legislation to bail them out. I think the local Unions and Lawyers should be made to pay this tax bill, since they stold what they have.

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