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Shocking Details Exposed in Illegal Body Part Scheme, Undertaker Admits to Heinous Crimes

A Colorado woman who ran a funeral home pleaded guilty to charges relating to her role in the unlawful sale of body parts belonging to dead bodies. Megan Hess of Montrose, Colorado, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and aiding and abetting, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced in a Tuesday news release. According to the plea agreement, Hess faces a maximum sentence of not more than 20 years in prison and a supervised release period of not more than three years. The funeral home operator also faces a maximum penalty of $250,000 or the greater number between twice the gross gain she made and twice the gross loss she incurred from committing the crime, the plea agreement stated. According to the plea deal, Hess also must pay $100 in the mandatory victim’s fund assessment fee and restitution, which would be determined during sentencing. Because of Hess’ guilty plea, prosecutors would drop the other charges they brought against her, which included five additional counts of mail fraud and three counts of transporting hazardous material, local newspaper The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported. A grand jury inducted Hess and her mother, Shirley Koch, in March of 2020 for running a scheme whereby the duo would sell corpses brought to their facility to medical and scientific procurers without the consent of the deceased’s families, the newspaper reported. To fulfill some of the sales, Koch and Hess would occasionally forge signatures on consent forms and misguide relatives of the deceased on how they would handle the corpses of their loved ones who passed away. “I exceeded the scope of the consent, and I’m trying to make an effort to make it right,” Hess said during a Tuesday court hearing at the Grand Junction Federal Courthouse, according to the newspaper. “I’m taking responsibility. I’m here to accept the plea. The families believe I went beyond the scope of the consent forms,” Hess said. “It has been 53 months since this legal travesty began.” Family members stated that they are “emotionally reeling” from the ordeal, but welcomed the fact that Hess plead guilty, according to The Daily Mail. In some cases, the plea agreement said, Hess’ offer of donating body parts would be turned down by the families of the deceased explicitly, although, for the most part, she and her co-conspirators would not bring up the topic during discussions with the families. Even though she never got permission from the families who either rejected or did not know of the donations, Hess would still sell the body parts. In other instances, Hess would obtain permission from some families; however, those families were deceived into thinking that only small samples from the corpses would be donated. The illegal body sale racket allowed Hess to offer cheap cremations in the area for around $1,000 per cremation, the plea agreement said. When families offered bodies to be cremated, Hess would either sell the whole corpse to body brokers or donate parts of the body and cremate the rest. According to the plea agreement, authorities identified up to 560 victims who had their bodies or parts of them sold illegally to body brokers. Analyzing bank records, investigators found out that Hess made $441,779.05 by committing fraud against 331 of the victims. Investigators could not yet trace how much Hess made through the 229 remaining victims, the court document said. “Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher presided over the change of plea hearing on July 5. Sentencing will be set at a later date,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in its news release. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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