March 12, 2020
Colorado Business Owners Charged in Illegal Transportation of Hazardous Materials
On March 12, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado indicted Megan Hess and her mother, Shirley Koch, on six counts of mail fraud and three counts of illegal transportation of hazardous materials.
According to the indictment, from 2010 through 2018, Hess and Koch operated Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors (SMFD) as a burial and cremation service. SMFD allegedly charged $1,000 or more for cremations, but many never occurred. Clients would receive cremains that Hess or Koch had replaced or supplemented with the cremains from one or more other people. Hess also created a nonprofit body broker service called Sunset Mesa Funeral Foundation, d.b.a. Donor Services, which she and Koch used to sell bodies and body parts to third parties. Allegedly, in dozens of instances, they did not follow families’ wishes and sold more remains than they were authorized to sell. In the few cases where families agreed to a donation, it was often limited to small samples, such as tumors or portions of skin.
The indictment also states that Hess and Koch shipped bodies and body parts that tested positive for or belonged to people who had died from infectious diseases, including hepatitis and HIV, after certifying to buyers that the remains were disease free. They made shipments through the mail or on commercial air flights, in violation of DOT regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous material.
DOT-OIG and the FBI are conducting this investigation.
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.