Monday, April 22, 2024

Owners of a Colorado Funeral Home Where 190 Decaying Bodies were Found are Charged with COVID Fraud; Colorado Funeral Home Operators Charged with Mishandling Corpses Now Accused of $880K in COVID Relief Fraud, and other C-Virus related stories

Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP, File
Owners of a Colorado funeral home where 190 decaying bodies were found are charged with COVID fraud:
A couple who owned a Colorado funeral home where authorities last year discovered 190 decaying bodies were indicted on federal charges that they misspent nearly $900,000 in pandemic relief funds on vacations, cosmetic surgery, jewelry and other personal expenses, according to court documents unsealed Monday.
The indictment reaffirms accusations from state prosecutors that Jon and Carie Hallford gave families dry concrete instead of cremated ashes and alleges the couple buried the wrong body on two occasions.
The couple also collected more than $130,000 from families for cremations and burial services they never provided, the indictment said.
The 15 charges brought by the federal grand jury are in addition to more than 200 criminal counts already pending against the Hallfords in Colorado state court for corpse abuse, money laundering, theft and forgery.
The federal offenses carry potential penalties of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, the indictment said.
On Monday, the owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Colorado Springs entered a federal courtroom bound in shackles as they made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott Varholak.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Neff argued the couple were a flight risk, after they allegedly fled to Oklahoma last October when the decaying bodies were first discovered and before their arrest on state charges on Nov. 8.
“They simply evaporated from the community,” Neff said.
The judge did not immediately decide if the couple should be released pending trial. He set an arraignment hearing for Thursday.
Carie Hallford’s attorney, Chaz Melihercik, said he would argue against detention at the next hearing. Jon Hallford’s public defender, Kilie Latendresse, told the judge that he had been following his bond conditions in the state case and that detention was unnecessary.
The new charges and accusations triggered more anguish for families who sent their loved ones to the funeral home.
Every new revelation about the case is a jolt to Tanya Wilson, who hired Return to Nature to cremate her mother’s remains. Wilson spread the ashes with family in Hawaii. After the grim discovery, Wilson was told those ashes weren’t actually her mother, whose body has since been identified among the 190 decaying bodies. --->READ MORE HERE
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Colorado funeral home operators charged with mishandling corpses now accused of $880K in COVID relief fraud:
A Colorado couple accused of allowing nearly 200 corpses to decay in a building connected to their funeral home have been indicted on federal charges of fraudulently obtaining a total of $882,300 in pandemic relief funds.
An indictment filed last week in U.S. District Court in Denver said Jon Hallford and Carie Hallford, who own the shuttered Colorado Springs-based Return to Nature Funeral Home, submitted false information to the U.S. Small Business Administration and received three separate payments totaling nearly $900,000.
The Hallfords “made material misrepresentations to the SBA regarding their eligibility to qualify for such loan and grant funds” on their application for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, according to the indictment. The alleged misrepresentations included falsely stating that they weren’t engaged in illegal activity or more than 60 days delinquent on child support obligations.
The Hallfords were expected to make their initial appearance in court on the indictment Monday. If convicted of the 15 counts, which include wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the couple could face 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to court documents.
No attorneys for the Hallfords were listed on the federal records.
The couple already faced trial on more than 200 state counts of corpse abuse, money laundering, forgery and theft. They are scheduled to enter pleas to those felony charges in June with a tentative trial set for October. --->READ MORE HERE
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