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Ex-funeral director pleads guilty to fraud, theft - abc27 WHTM

Ex-funeral director pleads guilty to fraud, theft

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LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) -

A Lancaster County funeral director accused of abusing corpses and stealing from clients pleaded guilty to fraud and theft charges Monday just as his trial was about to begin.

Benjamin Siar Jr., 42, of Lancaster will spend five to 10 years in prison and pay $150,000 in restitution as part of a plea agreement.

He must still answer to abuse of corpse charges, and he could face up to an additional eight years in prison.

Siar, who owned the former Gundel funeral homes in Conestoga and Lancaster, was arrested in February 2013 after authorities said he was paid more than $13,000 by four families for funeral and cremation services that he never provided.

Investigators who searched his funeral home in Conestoga said they found remains in various stages of decomposition on a basement table, in an inoperable cooling unit, and in a cardboard box in the garage.

According to prosecutors, one of the bodies was that of a 2-year-old Lancaster girl who was the victim of a homicide, while the other remains were those of elderly women who had died a month earlier.

More charges came in April 2013 when authorities said business records seized from the funeral homes indicated Siar had stolen more than $178,000 from 31 clients over the last four years, and in July after investigators said they found the cremated remains of three other people at Siar's funeral home in Conestoga and at his temporary home on St. Joseph Street.

Siar was paid a total of nearly $8,000 and had presented the families with an urn purported to contain the cremated remains of their loved ones, but in each instance the deceased had not yet been cremated, authorities said.

The Gundel family sold the business to Siar in 2006 and is no longer affiliated with the funeral homes.

 

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