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Couple who had 190 decomposing bodies at funeral home arrested after $800,000 Covid fraud

Jon and Carie Hallford have been hit with 15 federal charges

Martha McHardy
Tuesday 16 April 2024 17:59 BST
At Least 189 Decaying Bodies Found at Colorado Funeral Home
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A couple who were arrested last year after at least 190 bodies were found decomposing at their Colorado funeral home were arrested again on Sunday on federal fraud charges.

Jon and Carie Hallford were arrested in November 2023 after at least 190 decomposing bodies were discovered improperly stored at their Return to Nature Funeral Home in Colorado Springs.

The bodies were found by authorities after responding to a report of an “abhorrent smell,” and the couple were charged with approximately 190 counts of abuse of a corpse, five counts of theft, four counts of money laundering and more than 50 counts of forgery.

Court records later revealed that family members had been falsely told their loved ones were cremated and had received materials that were not their ashes.

The couple, who could face up to 18 months in prison for each count of corpse abuse, could now face more jail time after they were arrested again on Sunday on federal charges that they fraudulently obtained more than $880,000 in pandemic relief money, which they spent on vacations and personal goods.

Jon and Carie Hallford, the owners of Return to Nature Funeral Home in Colorado Springs (Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

FBI and court records revealed that the 15 federal charges relate to three separate small-business loans for pandemic relief made to the Hallfords between March 2020 and October 2021.

The indictment said the Hallfords fraudulently applied for the loans, which totalled $882,300, by submitting paperwork to the Small Business Administration that said they were not involved in criminal activity despite running an “ongoing wire fraud scheme to defraud customers of their business.”

Court records added that once the Hallfords received their loans, much of the money was spent on personal goods such as a vehicle, “multiple vacations,” including trips to California, Florida and Las Vegas, as well as eating out, cryptocurrency, cosmetic medical procedures, jewellery and tuition for a child.

At least 190 decomposing bodies were discovered improperly stored at their Return to Nature Funeral Home in Colorado Springs in 2023 (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP)

“The Hallfords used the bulk of the loan proceeds for their personal benefit,” the indictment said, adding that the couple netted $130,000 from families paying for cremations or burials that were never performed.

Mr and Ms Hallford appeared before a judge in court on Monday. During the hearing, Assistant United States Attorney Tim Neff argued that the Hallfords were a flight risk, and said that they fled to Oklahoma last year when the decaying bodies were initially found.

Judge Varholak did not immediately decide if the Hallfords should be released until a trial.

If convicted of the federal charges, the couple could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, according to the federal indictment.

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