Colorado funeral home owners spent cremation money on lavish lifestyles – NBC Chicago

Colorado funeral home owners spent cremation money on lavish lifestyles – NBC Chicago

Two Colorado funeral home owners accused of abandoning nearly 200 bodies took payments from families meant for cremations and burials and instead bought vehicles, cryptocurrency, a $1,500 dinner in Las Vegas and other personal items, prosecutors and an agent said. F.B.I.

In a courtroom packed with families of the dead, FBI agent Andrew Cohen said Jon and Carrie Hallford used payments from the families to buy two vehicles — a GMC Yukon and an Infinti — for more than $120,000, enough to cover cremation costs twice. all bodies found in the storage area of ​​their business in Penrose, Colorado, last October.

Jon Hallford looked straight ahead while sitting at the defense table wearing a dark jacket, tie and glasses as Cohen testified. He didn’t seem to show any reaction.

Some of the bodies had been in the worm-infested building for years before they were discovered after reports of a foul smell permeating the small mountain town. Families who hired Return to Nature to cremate their relatives told The Associated Press that the FBI confirmed their remains were among the decomposing bodies.

The testimony about the Hallfords’ spending practices came during a hearing in which a judge ruled that prosecutors presented enough evidence to show that Jon Hallford should stand trial on criminal charges. The judge had previously ruled that Carrie Hallford would also stand trial.

The couple was arrested in November in Oklahoma. Neither has declared yet. Investigators have been gathering evidence since the bodies were found.

Jon Hallford’s lawyer, Adam Steigerwald, argued that the prosecution had failed to prove money was spent from the couple’s business account to hide the source of the funds, which meant it was not a money laundering offence. He also said the Yukon was purchased with money the couple received from the federal Small Business Administration.

But Cohen said the money, an adjustment to a pandemic-era small business loan given to the Hallfords, was fraudulently obtained after Hallford lied about not falling behind on child support payments.

The couple, who owned Return to Nature Funeral Home in Colorado Springs, are charged with 190 counts of abuse of a corpse, five counts of theft, four counts of money laundering and more than 50 counts of forgery. In addition to their funeral home, they used a building in the nearby rural community of Penrose as a body storage facility, prosecutors say.

Members of law enforcement and the medical examiner’s office investigated a “green” Colorado funeral home for reports of suspicious activity and improper body storage.

At an earlier hearing for Carrie Hallford, prosecutors presented text messages suggesting she and her husband tried to cover their financial difficulties by leaving the bodies at the Penrose site. They did not provide further details. The building had makeshift refrigeration units that were not working at the time the bodies were found, Cohen testified.

According to prosecutors, Jon Hallford was worried about being caught as early as 2020 and suggested getting rid of the bodies by dumping them in a large hole and then treating them with lye or setting them on fire.

“My only focus is keeping us out of jail,” he wrote in a text message, according to prosecutors.

Jon Hallford was released from the El Paso County Jail in late January after posting $100,000 bond. Carrie Halford remained in jail Thursday on $100,000 bond.


Matthew Brown contributed to this report from Billings, Montana.

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