Ohio man accused of running fraudulent funeral services found guilty on dozens of charges
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A man accused of running fraudulent funeral services has been convicted of dozens of criminal charges.
Shawnte Hardin was convicted of dozens of charges including abuse of a corpse and representing as a funeral director while unlicensed. Hardin opted out of a jury trial for a bench trial and a Lucas County judge found him guilty of 31 of the following charges:
- One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity (F1)
- Three counts of tampering with records (F3)
- Two counts of telecommunications fraud (F5)
- One count of operating an unlicensed funeral home (unclassified misdemeanor)
- One count of possessing criminal tools (F5)
- Six counts of abuse of a corpse (F5)
- Eight counts of representation of a funeral director while unlicensed (unclassified misdemeanor)
- Four counts of passing bad checks (F5)
- Two counts of theft (F4 and F5)
- Three counts of failure to file taxes (F5)
Several charges were dismissed and Hardin was found not guilty on several others including Intimidation of Victim/Witness and Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, according to court documents.
After the verdict, Hardin told 13abc he maintains his innocence.
“I did my best with what I could under the Ohio revised code in terms of the rules as a pastor and what our church is allowed to do,” Hardin said. “The judge’s idea was different then mine as I tried to help these families and I wish them all the best as we begin to move forward.”
He adds that he did “the best with what I knew to do under the law.”
According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Hardin ran the fraudulent funeral services in Lucas, Cuyahoga, Summit, and Franklin counties. Names of those businesses are as follows:
- Hussain Funeral Directors
- Celebration of Life Memorial Chapels
- Hardin Funeral Home, Inc.,
- American Mortuary Services and Transportation
- Shawnte Davon Hardin Services, LLC.
Yost’s office said prosecutors presented evidence of Hardin running an unlicensed funeral home that “exemplified Hardin’s criminal enterprise.”
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.
Just earlier this year, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations found more than 80 cremated remains at a church in Akron, many of which were later found to belong to Toledo-area families. While many have since been returned to loved ones of the deceased, some have yet to be claimed, according to Yost’s office. Families who may be affected can contact BCI at 855-224-6446.
Hardin will be sentenced on August 26.
Yost’s office released these images from the investigation:
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