The Jones County coroner has resigned after being arrested Tuesday and charged with 24 felonies.
Jerry Bridges Sr., 76, faces two counts of misappropriation of funds and 22 counts of theft by conversion, said Jones County sheriff’s Lt. Kenny Gleaton. Bridges is accused of pocketing at least $100,000 from funeral home clients with pre-need accounts.
Bridges is free on a $100,000 property bond pending trial. Bridges could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Bridges is accused of misappropriating funds from pre-need funeral accounts from his business, Bridges Funeral Home, that closed in 2018, Gleaton said.
The law requires that the funds for a prearranged funeral be placed in an escrow account, Gleaton said.
In 2018, complaints related to such accounts were resolved by Bridges and the pre-need account customers, Gleaton said.
But in February of this year, continued complaints led a magistrate judge to ask the sheriff’s office to investigate, Gleaton said.
“Our investigation really began in earnest then ... interviews, bank records, subpoenas, search warrants, that whole process, and then that ultimately culminated in the charges that were filed,” Gleaton said.
In all, there are 22 known victims, he said.
Gleaton said authorities are still investigating where the money actually went.
“Just of the charges that have been filed ... we’re looking at $100,000 in unaccounted funds,” Gleaton said.
None of the allegations against Bridges are related to his former coroner duties, Gleaton said. Deputy Coroner Matt Jarratt has been appointed interim coroner.
Anyone who has purchased a pre-need funeral with Bridges who may have concerns may contact Gleaton or Maj. Earl Humphries at 478-986-3489.