Montrose funeral dwelling proprietor convicted in body-selling case

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) – A Colorado funeral dwelling operator accused of illegally promoting physique elements and giving faux ashes to prospects was sentenced Tuesday by a federal courtroom decide to twenty years in jail.

Megan Hess obtained the utmost sentence after pleading responsible in November to mail fraud in a plea deal that dropped different expenses towards her, The Every day Sentinel reported.

U.S. authorities stated dozens of occasions Hess and his mom, Shirley Koch, who additionally pleaded responsible to mail fraud, transferred corpses or physique elements to 3rd events with out the household’s information.

U.S. District Choose Christine Arguello in Grand Junction additionally sentenced Koch to fifteen years in jail. Arguello convicted the pair after the victims testified in regards to the ache they suffered as a part of the scheme.

Hess, 48, and Koch, 69, operated Sundown Mesa Funeral House in west Montrose. They have been arrested in 2020 and charged with six counts of mail fraud and three counts of illegal transportation of harmful substances.

Cremation was paid for however by no means occurred

The grand jury indictment alleges that between 2010 and 2018, Hess and Koch supplied cremations and supplied stays to households at a value of $1,000 or extra, however lots of the cremations by no means came about.

In 2009, Hess created a nonprofit referred to as the Sundown Mesa Funeral Basis as a physique brokerage to do enterprise as donor providers, authorities stated.

In accordance with the US Division of Justice, dozens of occasions Hess and Koch transferred our bodies or physique elements to 3rd events with out the household’s information. The transfers have been made by Sundown Mesa Funeral Basis and Donor Companies, and the households got ashes that didn’t belong to their family members, authorities stated.

Hess and Koch additionally shipped our bodies and physique elements that examined constructive for or belonged to individuals who died of infectious illnesses, together with HIV and hepatitis B and C, regardless of assuring consumers that the stays have been disease-free. say the authorities.

Hess’ lawyer, Ashley Petrie, instructed the courtroom Tuesday that Hess was motivated by a want to advance medical analysis.

Assistant United States Legal professional Tim Neff scoffed on the argument.

“Eight years of repeated conduct of this nature is all of the courtroom must learn about his historical past and character,” Neff stated.

Koch stated in the course of the sentencing. “I settle for my guilt and take accountability for my actions. I’m very sorry for the hurt I brought about you and your households.”

Hess refused to go to courtroom.

A sufferer restitution listening to was scheduled for March.

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