The owner of a Colorado funeral home has been accused of illegally selling human body parts and providing fake ashes to relatives of the dead. He confessed to the crime He could face up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud in federal court on Tuesday.
In March 2020, Megan Hess, owner of Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, a community 265 miles northwest of Denver, and her mother, Shirley Koch, were arrested. Accused of selling body partsConsent forms are sometimes forged and mislead families about how their loved ones’ remains will be treated.
Perariwalan’s charge sheet has said From 2010 to 2018Hess and Koch offered to cremate the bodies and give the remains to families at a cost of at least $1,000, but many cremations never took place.
This is how they profited from the dead
In 2009, Hess created the Sunset Mesa Funeral Foundation, a nonprofit that served as an organ donation brokerage service, officials said.
In dozens of cases, Hess and Koch Bodies or organs are transferred to third parties for research According to the Department of Justice, the families were unaware of this.
Transfers were made through Sunset Mesa Funeral Foundation and Donor Services, officials said.
Both women submitted bodies and body parts that tested positive or belonged to individuals Died of infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and C and HIV, despite certifying to purchasers that the remains are disease-free.
They initially pleaded not guilty
Both Hess and Koch, now 45, initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.
However, Colorado’s Daily Sentinel newspaper reported Tuesday that the women pleaded guilty to mail fraud in federal court.
At a federal court hearing, Hess read an account of the crime and was asked if that was what he did, to which he answered “yes.”
“I take responsibility,” Hess said. “I am here to accept the petition. Families believe I am beyond the scope of consent forms.
Megan Hess faces the maximum sentence 20 years imprisonment After pleading guilty.
Hess is scheduled to be sentenced tentatively in January. A hearing on the petition for Koch is scheduled for July 12.
Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 12 to 15 years for Hess.
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