Minister sentenced to 12 years in prison for funeral fraud, abuse of a corpse

Shawnte Hardin sentenced to 12 years in prison
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 1:48 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Shawnte Hardin, a minister who was found guilty of running an illicit funeral home business across Ohio, was sentenced to 11 years, 10 months in prison Friday.

On Aug. 5, Hardin was found guilty in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on 31 charges, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records, telecommunications fraud, operating an unlicensed funeral home, possessing criminal tools, abuse of a corpse, representation of a funeral director while unlicensed, passing bad checks, theft and failure to file taxes.

He operated several businesses in Lucas, Cuyahoga, Summit and Franklin counties under various names: Hussain Funeral Directors, Celebration of Life Memorial Chapels, Hardin Funeral Home, Inc., American Mortuary Services and Transportation, and Shawnte Davon Hardin Services, LLC.

The case was prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions Section of the Attorney General’s Office and was investigated by the AG’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Special Prosecutions Section, and the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.

Hardin was indicted by a Lucas County Grand Jury in October 2021 on 37 criminal charges including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records, theft, abuse of a corpse, identity fraud, representation as a funeral director while unlicensed, and passing bad checks.

In 2019, an I-Team investigation revealed that Hardin was one of two people identified as a suspect after reports of an improperly stored body in a building behind the Rock Church off Airport Highway used for embalming bodies. At the time, Hardin was not listed in an Ohio database as being certified by the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.

Earlier this year, investigators reported finding dozens of cremated remains inside of an Akron church as part of an investigation into Hardin -- many of which were allegedly from Tate Funeral Homes in Toledo. Hardin was the senior pastor of the church. Some families thought they had the remains of their loved ones, only to find out they never did. Many were later reunited with the correct remains of their loved ones. Hardin’s trial in Lucas County does not include charges from the on-going investigation in Akron.

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