A Los Angeles funeral home owner illegally left the remains of 11 people, including infants, in stages of decay and mummification and faces more than a decade in jail, prosecutors said Friday.
City Attorney Mike Feuer, whose office can only file misdemeanor offenses, announced the charges Friday, calling it an “incredibly sad and shocking situation” and said that officials could smell the odor from outside the San Fernando Valley facility.
“Eleven people died, including very young children, and the funeral director hired to compassionately prepare the bodies for burial allegedly just let them rot, with neither the decency nor the dignity that all our loved ones deserve,” Feuer said in a statement. “Their deaths are one tragedy, and this alleged monstrous mistreatment is a second tragedy.”
Funeral homes that mistreat human remains have made headlines for years. Funeral home regulations vary across the U.S., with some states requiring annual inspections and several requiring no inspections at all.
In one of the most extreme cases, more than 330 decaying corpses were found in 2002 in the Tri-State Crematory near the tiny community of Noble, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Atlanta. The former operator pleaded guilty to nearly 800 criminal charges related to fraud and corpse abuse after the bodies were found.
In Los Angeles, authorities opened an investigation into the Mark B. Allen Mortuary and Cremations Services Inc., after receiving complaints from families. The mortuary, owned by Mark B. Allen, is now closed and phone numbers listed for the business were disconnected.
It was not immediately clear whether Allen has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. He faces 22 misdemeanor charges — two for each person — from the state’s Health and Safety Code, where one statute makes it illegal for anyone to dispose of human remains anywhere that is not a cemetery. The second statute that Allen faces is disposing of remains illegally through his role as a funeral director. The maximum penalty is $110,000 and 11 years in jail.