A former funeral director is going to prison for abusing corpses and stealing from clients.
Benjamin Siar, 43, of Lancaster, was sentenced in Lancaster County court Wednesday to 6 to 14 years in prison.
He pleaded guilty in the case last month, just as his trial was about to begin.
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,
The Gundel family sold the business to Siar in 2006 and is no longer affiliated with the funeral homes.