The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office is investigating a situation in which a body was released from Emory University Hospital without proper consent. The body was then embalmed at a funeral home without the family’s permission.

The body of Leon Anderton, 68, was released to Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Homes, according to WSB-TV, a local Atlanta news station. Anderton died of cancer on Sept. 8, the news station reported Thursday.

Gregory Levett, who declined to comment on the matter to the Wheel, told WSB-TV that he had received verbal permission to remove the body and complete the embalming.

Emory Hospital, however, said the home did not receive the proper consent to take the body.

“Emory University Hospital has established procedures for a smooth transition from hospital to funeral home,” Emory University Hospital said in a statement to the Wheel. “While we acted in good faith and with all good intentions on behalf of the Anderton family, these procedures were not followed to the letter in this situation.”

Both CEO of Emory University Hospital Robert Bachman and Associate Vice President for Health Science Communications Vincent Dollard declined to comment further.

The Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia Brian Kemp is currently conducting the open investigation on the matter, wrote Kemp’s Communications Coordinator Cody Whitlock in an email to the Wheel. He declined to elaborate on the specifics of the investigation.

Anderton’s family said that they did not authorize Anderton’s release from the home nor the ensuing embalming, according to WSB-TV. They also said that the embalming disrespects the body as per their Orthodox Christian beliefs, WSB-TV reported.

“We regret this error and have communicated with the family to apologize for the lapse and have offered to assist in transferring to another funeral home,” Emory University Hospital said in its statement to the Wheel.

When reached by phone, Anderton’s nephew, who said he has been overseeing the affairs of the Anderton’s wife and estate, also declined to comment.

The Hospital concluded in its statement, “We are carefully reviewing our procedures in order to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future.”

– By Rupsha Basu