Megan Hayes, accused two years ago of illegally selling body parts and giving fake ashes to customers from her West Slope funeral home, has reached a plea deal with federal officials — to prosecute A few weeks before being ready for, the court documents display.
Hayes’ attorney filed a motion in US District Court on Friday, saying a dispute had been reached and asking the court to change the plea. Terms of the potential deal were not disclosed.
Neither Hayes nor his lawyer could be contacted on Wednesday. A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the plea deal.
In March 2020 a federal grand jury indicted Hayes and her mother, Shirley Koch, on multiple charges related to illegally selling body parts or entire bodies without the consent of the deceased’s family from Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors in Montrose.
Hayes and Koch were charged with six counts of mail fraud and three counts of illegal transportation of dangerous materials. If convicted of mail fraud, each faces up to 20 years in federal prison per count. Other charges carry five years in prison per count. The pair, who pleaded not guilty on all counts, were set to stand trial in federal court the following month.
The coach’s name did not appear in Friday’s motion and it is not clear whether she has even reached a petition. Koch and his lawyer could not be immediately contacted.
Officials alleged that the couple would offer to cremate the bodies for the families and provide their remains back to them. But many of these cremations never took place. Instead, they alleged that Koch and Hayes sold parts of the body – or the whole body – to companies around the world for significant profit.
Officials alleged that some of these bodies or body parts belonged to people who had died of infectious diseases, including HIV.
Families who used Sunset Mesa never realized that the urns in their living rooms or on their mantels didn’t actually contain the remains of their loved ones.
People from the West Slope told The Denver Post in 2018 about the heartache that has come with finding out that their parents or siblings or best friends were sent somewhere without their knowledge. Victims have formed support groups and have been in contact over the years, relying on others who can relate to their grief.
Several people have sued Hayes and Koch, saying Sunset Mesa operators horribly destroyed their loved ones while distributing fake bodies. Some of these cases have been resolved, while others are in litigation.
The Sunset Mesa case prompted Colorado legislators over the years to pass several new laws: one that also limited funeral home operators from running a bodybroker business; Another increases oversight power for state regulators to inspect funeral homes; And a third makes abusing a corpse a crime.
The funeral home and its operators were initially uncovered in a Reuters investigation in January 2018, which found Sunset Mesa to be the only business in the country that operates a funeral home, a crematorium and a body broker’s shop from the same location. operates.
Soon after, the FBI raided the location.