Criminal charges were filed Wednesday against the owner and three former employees of Carver Mortuary, the South Salt Lake funeral home that temporarily lost its license last year amid misconduct allegations.
In November, state regulators temporarily suspended the license of the mortuary over reports that employees often mixed ashes, left bodies unrefrigerated, and stole jewelry from the deceased. The mortuary was allowed to stay open on probation after agreeing to pay a $10,000 fine and overhaul its management practices.
Now, charges have been filed in 3rd District Court against owner Tanner Carver, two former managers at the facility and an employee. Carver and Shane Westmoreland, a manager, face seven counts of unlawful or unprofessional conduct and 10 counts of unlawfully preparing a body without a license, all class A misdemeanors.
A former manager, Michael Jones, was charged with 21 misdemeanor counts of preparing a body without a license and one misdemeanor count related to allegedly stealing items from human remains. Beau Hintze, an employee, faces three misdemeanor charges of preparing a dead body without a license.
An attorney representing the mortuary, Eric Benson, said Wednesday night the business has been cooperating with the investigation and he was still reviewing the charges.
Charges say Hintze did 17 embalming procedures or sew-ups of bodies without the proper license, which had expired, between October 2016 and November 2017. Jones, meanwhile, did more than 300 embalming procedures and cremations after his license had expired, also in that period.
One former employee told a Salt Lake County district attorney’s office investigator that he knew bodies frequently were disposed of at Carver Mortuary “without proper licensing, death certificates or permits, in violation of state law.”
Several employees balked when they were asked to conduct cremations and other procedures that required a license, according to charging documents, but the workers were assured by Westmoreland and Jones that those tasks were allowed.
One former employee said he was hired to transport bodies. But he was taught on the first day how to do cremations — and, by his third day, he told investigators, he was conducting them himself.
The charges say Jones sold more than 50 grams of gold — including “dental gold” — and palladium metal, which he had obtained from human remains. He received $1,000 for the precious metal at a refining company, the charges say.