GRAND JUNCTION, CO– The former operator of a funeral home has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars after she allegedly sold and transferred body parts from the bodies that were placed in her care.
Megan Hess was sentenced by a federal judge on Tuesday, after pleading guilty to mail fraud under a plea agreement that dropped the other charges.
Authorities say Hess and her mother, Shirley Koch, operated the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose and offered cremation services to clients for a minimum of $1000.
Instead of cremating the bodies, however, Hess opened a non-for profit foundation where she served as a body-broker and sold the bodies or body parts to third parties and research facilities.
Authorities say the duo provided fake ashes to families expecting to receive their family member’s remains.
Investigators also reported that the duo sold bodies with infectious diseases to buyers despite certifying that the bodies were disease-free.
The foundation was said to have been set up in 2019 and operated from 2010 through 2018.
Hess’ attorney told the court that his client was motivated by a desire to advance medical research.
While Hess declined to address the court, Koch apologized:
“I acknowledge my guilt and take responsibility for my actions,” Koch said during the sentencing hearing. “I’m very sorry for (the) harm I caused you and your families.”
Koch also pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.