A Colorado funeral home owner pleaded guilty on Tuesday to dissecting corpses and illegally selling their body parts without consent from their relatives.
Megan Hess, the owner of the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home and a human body parts business called Donor Services, pleaded guilty to mail fraud at a hearing before US Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher in Grand Junction in Colorado.
Hess ran the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home with her mother, Shirley Koch, where they offered cremation services and provided the remains to families for at least $1000, yet many of the cremations never occurred.
Hess harvested heads, spines, arms, and legs and sold them for surgical training and other educational purposes instead of cremating corpses.
Hess and Koch also forged paperwork, such as signatures on authorization forms for donating body parts, and misled buyers about medical test results.
Hess and Koch also falsified laboratory reports of people who died from infectious diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis B and C, and said they tested negative when they tested positive.
Hess faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in Grand Junction.
Hess had been scheduled to stand trial in three weeks along with Koch, who have both previously pleaded not guilty.
Koch’s change-of-plea hearing will be on July 12.
Gallagher scheduled Hess to be sentenced in January, with prosecutors recommending a sentence of 12 to 15 years in prison.
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