Colorado funeral home owner accused of selling body parts pleads guilty

Audrey J. Powers

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A Colorado funeral house operator accused of illegally offering system pieces and offering consumers phony ashes has pleaded guilty to mail fraud in federal court docket.

The Day by day Sentinel experiences that Megan Hess faces a highest sentence of 20 yrs in prison following getting into the plea Tuesday in Grand Junction. Other costs against Hess will be dropped below a plea arrangement, the Sentinel mentioned.

Hess, 45, and her mom, Shirley Koch, operated the Sunset Mesa Funeral Dwelling in Montrose. They had been arrested in 2020 and charged with six counts of mail fraud and three counts of illegal transportation of dangerous supplies.

A grand jury indictment explained that from 2010 by means of 2018, Hess and Koch made available to cremate bodies and give the continues to be to family members at a price of $1,000 or far more, but numerous of the cremations never transpired.

Hess experienced created a nonprofit group in 2009 called Sunset Mesa Funeral Foundation as a body-broker services executing small business as Donor Products and services, authorities reported.

On dozens of occasions, Hess and Koch transferred bodies or body sections to 3rd parties for research without families’ knowledge, according to the U.S. Justice Division. The transfers ended up performed through Sunset Mesa Funeral Basis and Donor Providers, authorities explained.

Hess and Koch also delivered bodies and physique parts that tested beneficial for, or belonged to men and women who died from, infectious diseases which include Hepatitis B and C, and HIV, inspite of certifying to purchasers that the remains have been sickness-free of charge, authorities stated.

Both equally Hess and Koch originally experienced pleaded not guilty to the costs.

Hess is tentatively established to be sentenced in January. A alter of plea hearing for Koch is scheduled for July 12.

Prosecutors encouraged a sentence for Hess of 12 to 15 many years.

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