Former embalmer is convicted of stealing gold crowns from bodies


A former Lancaster apprentice embalmer charged with taking gold crowns from human remains pleaded no contest Tuesday and was sentenced to seven years in state prison.

Pete Jacob Lara, 39, pleaded to seven felony counts -- one count each of possession of methamphetamine and removal or possession of dental gold from human remains, and five counts of commercial burglary, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

He will serve his term in local custody and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides services to veterans wounded in combat.


Lara allegedly took gold crowns from bodies -- as well as an urn and decorative urn medallions that combined are worth more than $1,000 -- while he worked at Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home in Lancaster.

The items were stolen between June 25, 2012, and Oct. 28, 2013, and were sold at pawn shops and jewelry exchanges, prosecutors said.


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