When John Orlando was released from prison last year, he wanted to get his life back. He’d worked for decades as a funeral director, and he wanted to keep doing that. He loved the work, he needed the money, and he wanted the dignity of paying back the money he stole.
“I was guilty. I did it. I deserved to be punished,” Orlando said this past fall over breakfast in a Long Island diner. “If I could get my license back, I could make good.”
But he can’t. Orlando stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his sick cousin who entrusted him with his estate. And when Orlando’s business failed, he couldn’t pay back the people who’d prepaid for their funerals.
He was convicted of three felonies for those crimes, and so he can’t yet get that license back. In 2016, three years after his release, he’ll be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct, and if he gets it he’ll be allowed to at least apply to get a new funeral directing license. Until then, Orlando remains barred from the work of dressing bodies, saying prayers and arranging flowers.