(CMR) A former Colorado funeral home owner was given the maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison on Tuesday for defrauding relatives of the dead by dissecting 560 corpses and selling body parts without permission.
Megan Hess (46), who operated a funeral home, Sunset Mesa, and a body parts entity, Donor Services, from the same building in Montrose, Colorado, pleaded guilty to fraud in July.
Hess's 69-year-old mother, Shirley Koch, also pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to 15 years. Koch's central role was chopping up the bodies, according to Reuters.
“Hess and Koch used their funeral home at times to essentially steal bodies and body parts using fraudulent and forged donor forms. Hess and Koch's conduct caused immense emotional pain for the families and next of kin,” prosecutor Tim Neff said.
The federal case was triggered by a 2016-2018 Reuters investigative series about selling body parts in the United States, a virtually unregulated industry. Former workers told Reuters that Hess and Koch conducted unauthorized dismemberments of bodies, and a few weeks after a 2018 story was published, the FBI raided the business.