The former owner of a funeral home and her mother were convicted in the state of Colorado, United States, for selling body parts without consent.
Megan Hess, 46, and Shirly Koch, 69, they dissected some 560 cadavers between 2010 and 2018. They sold parts and organs of those remains to medical education companies that were unaware that they had been fraudulently acquired.
Hess was sentenced to 20 years in prison and Koch to 15.
In some cases both women sold entire bodies, prosecutors said. In the United States it is legal to donate organs, but not to sell them.
Hess ran Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in the city of Montrose. The former businesswoman charged families up to $1,000 for cremations that never took place, and in some cases offered them free of charge in exchange for donations of body parts, prosecutors added.
Using falsified donor forms, Hess sold cadaver parts, including arms, legs and heads, through Donor Services, his other business on the same premises as the funeral home.
Several family members who used Hess’s company for cremations of their loved ones they found out later that they received ashes mixed with the remains of other people.
“These two women took advantage of vulnerable victims who turned to them in a time of pain and sadness,” Leonard Carollo, a special agent for the FBI in Denver, said in a statement.
“But instead of offering them guidance, these greedy women betrayed the trust of hundreds of victims and mutilated their loved ones,” the agent added.
The case was brought to light by a Reuters investigation that led to an FBI raid on the funeral home in 2018.
The emotional statements of the victims dominated the court hearing in which the sentence was handed down on Tuesday.
“When Megan stole my mother’s heart, she broke mine,” Nancy Overhoff said, according to the Denver Post.
Judge Christine Arguello described the case as “the most emotionally draining I have ever experienced.”
The magistrate ordered that the two women be sent to prison immediately.
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BBC-NEWS-SRC: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-internacional-64168165, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-01-04 18:40:07
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