Megan Hess, a former funeral home owner accused of stealing and selling the body parts of hundreds of people in Colorado has pleaded guilty to mail fraud.

According to The Daily Sentinel, Hess sold body parts without families’ consent in a funeral home business she operated with her mother before pleading guilty. Hess and her mother, Shirley Koch, 66, operated Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Colorado. They were first arrested by the U.S. Department of Justice for the crime in March 2020.

Reportedly, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado shared in a release Tuesday, that Hess, 45, of Montrose, Colorado had pleaded guilty to devising a scheme “to steal the bodies or body parts of hundreds of victims,” from 2010 to 2018.

The body parts were allegedly sold “for scientific, medical, or educational purposes.”

Megan Hess (Mike Wood/Reuters)

Megan Hess Faces 20 Years In Funeral Home Scheme

Hess now faces up to 20 years in jail for her body part scheme. Eight other criminal charges against her were dropped as a part of a plea deal, the newspaper added Tuesday.

Describing the crime in a United States District Court in Grand Junction, Tuesday, Hess said,

“I exceeded the scope of the consent and I’m trying to make an effort to make it right.”

 

The mother and daughter reportedly forged paperwork and “misleading buyers about the results of medical tests” performed on the bodies, according to court documents. The DOJ reports that at the time of the arrests, Hess and Koch’s mail scheme included shipping “bodies and body parts that tested positive for, or belonging to people who had died from, infectious diseases, including Hepatitis B and C, and HIV, after certifying to buyers that the remains were disease-free.”

 “These shipments would be through the mail or on commercial air flights in violation of Department of Transportation regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous materials,” The DOJ reported.

MONTROSE, CO – OCTOBER 24: Literature used by Megan Hess of the Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors & Donor Services in Montrose, Colorado October 24, 2018 in Montrose, Colorado. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The mother-and-daughter team also repeatedly lied to grieving families about the status of their loved one’s bodies or flat out ignored their wishes, said the DOJ.

“Hess, and at times Koch, would meet with families seeking cremation services, and would offer to cremate the decedents’ bodies and provide the remains back to the families,” the DOJ added. They stated that the funeral home “would charge $1,000 or more for cremations, but many never occurred. Hess and Koch also delivered remains to families with the representation that the remains were that of the deceased when, frequently, that was not the case.”

Hess is reportedly scheduled to be sentenced in January. Her mother is scheduled for court on July 12th.






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