A man who operated businesses in Lucas, Cuyahoga, Summit and Franklin counties, including an Akron business where the cremains of more than 80 people were found, has been found guilty of multiple felony charges for providing funeral services without a license.
A Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge found Shawnte Hardin guilty on 31 charges, after Hardin waived his right to a trial by jury. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 26.
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He had been indicted on 37 charges in October 2021. According to a release from the Ohio Attorney General's office, Hardin was found guilty of the following charges:
One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity (F1)
Three counts of tampering with records (F3)
Two counts of telecommunications fraud (F5)
One count of operating an unlicensed funeral home (unclassified misdemeanor)
One count of possessing criminal tools (F5)
Six counts of abuse of a corpse (F5)
Eight counts of representation of a funeral director while unlicensed (unclassified misdemeanor)
Four counts of passing bad checks (F5)
Two counts of theft (F4 and F5)
Three counts of failure to file taxes (F5)
Hardin operated several businesses including Hussain Funeral Directors, Celebration of Life Memorial Chapels, Hardin Funeral Home, Inc., American Mortuary Services and Transportation, and Shawnte Davon Hardin Services, LLC. The original charges filed in the case accounted for crimes committed in each of the counties as part of a continuing course of criminal activity, according to the release.
The case was prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions Section of the Attorney General's Office and investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Ohio Department of Funeral and Embalmers.
In December 2018, Toledo police officers investigated a small building with newspapers covering the windows when a transport driver for the Lucas County coroner who had delivered a body there alerted authorities to reports of an improperly stored body.
Ohio BCI removed two bodies in September 2021, from a rented commercial storefront in Columbus, where Hardin is accused of storing them for funeral services.
In January, more than 80 created remains were located at 825 East Buchtel Ave. in Akron at Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church.
Many of the remains have been identified and returned to family members, although some have yet to be claimed. Families whose loved ones may be impacted may contact the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446).
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Unlicensed funeral director who stored cremains in Akron found guilty