A California mortuary worker is accused of stealing 125 gold crowns from dead bodies under his care and then pawning them for cash.
Pete Jacob Lara, 39, a former apprentice embalmer at the Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home in Lancaster, allegedly carried out the thefts over the course of a year, between 2012 ad 2013, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
Prosecutors allege that Lara also took a cremation urn box and medallions used to decorate urn boxes worth more than $1,000.
Lara was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday afternoon on more than two dozen charges. These charges include removal or possession of dental gold from human remains, grand theft by embezzlement and one count of possession of methamphetamine, the Daily Mail reports.
He also faces 23 counts of second-degree commercial burglary.
Lara allegedly stole the gold crowns from strangers’ bodies and sold them at pawnshops and jewelry stores, some for $50, a police source told the New York Daily News.
If convicted as charged, Lara faces a maximum sentence of 19 years in state prison.
Lara’s bail has been set at $510,000. The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
His profile has been removed from the Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home website.
Sources: New York Daily News, Daily Mail