A funeral director from southwest Minnesota has had his mortician’s license revoked and been fined $60,000 for a scheme in which he collected money for prepaid funerals and failed to perform the services.

Steven J. Almlie, who operated funeral homes in Tracy, Balaton and Westbrook, was accused of collecting nearly $80,000 from 14 people over an unspecified time and using the money for his personal benefit. Almlie, of Tracy, also was accused of failing to create trust accounts for the prepayments and failing to file the required reports on how he used the money.

In a stipulation and consent order filed recently by the Minnesota Department of Health and the state Office of Administrative Hearings, Almlie admitted failing to properly account for the money. According to the consent order, he sold his funeral homes in 2014 and made arrangements to make restitution to the clients whose money he had mishandled.

Almlie’s license was revoked and he’s barred from reapplying for it. He was originally fined $140,000, but he contested the fine. The fine was reduced to $60,000 and Almlie agreed not to contest it further.



Mille Lacs Band names commissioner

Katie Draper was sworn in last week as the new commissioner of natural resources for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the band announced.

Draper previously served as the band’s commissioner of community development, and more recently as its director of government affairs, overseeing lobbying, public relations and community relations.

“For as far back as I can remember, I have loved the outdoors,” Draper said. “It’s how I was raised. Appreciation for what nature shares with us is deeply rooted in me, personally, and in our culture as Anishinaabe. I am greatly honored to now serve in this role to conserve our natural resources and protect treaty rights for future generations.”

In addition to environmental duties, the commissioner also oversees historical preservation, food sovereignty initiatives and tribal enrollment.

“As commissioner, my primary role is to manage natural resources, but I am also deeply committed to creating a greater cross-cultural understanding in the region,” Draper said. “The [Department of Natural Resources] will operate with a blend of cultural wisdom and scientific knowledge — doing what we know is right from our teachings and listening to what nature is telling us through scientific data and research of our tribal biologists and other experts.”