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Former Funeral Home Employee Charged With Jacking Gold Crowns From Corpses

(Photo by Dim Dimich via Shutterstock)
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A former apprentice embalmer accused of taking gold crowns from corpses at a Lancaster funeral home will be arraigned Wednesday on more than two dozen felony counts, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Pete Jacob Lara, 39, is charged with removal or possession of dental gold from human remains, among other felonies. He also faces 23 counts of second-degree commercial burglary.

Lara formerly worked for Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home in Lancaster. As an apprentice embalmer, he allegedly took gold crowns from bodies and other items, like a cremation urn box and medallions used to decorate urn boxes (worth more than $1,000). Prosecutors said Lara went on to pawn the stolen goods at pawn shops and jewelry exchanges. The alleged crimes took place between June and October.

His case is still being investigated by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. If convicted, Lara faces a maximum sentence of 19 years in state prison.