Harold Warren Sr., 77, a Missouri funeral home director has pleaded guilty to intentionally giving three families the wrong cremated remains. This includes leaving a woman’s body in an electrical room for 10 months without embalming or refrigeration. What is interesting is that Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler indicated that he might not honor the plea bargain for no jail time for Warren, who is a prominent political figure in the area. There are questions of whether the prosecutors cut Warren a remarkably light deal due to his political connections and standing in the community.
Warren could face four years in prison on each of the charges, but reached a deal with prosecutors to avoid jail time. Under the deal he would get four years probation, pay back the money on the funeral services, and give the families an apology. The families have criticized the deal with prosecutors and I don’t blame them. That is pretty light for such an horrific act. Warren is accused of not only giving them the wrong body but leaving other bodies in bags in the basement.
Warren was also arrested recently for allegedly writing a bad check, here. That charge, however, was for a check of only $318 and was written on an account with insufficient funds (not normally a matter for an arrest).
Warren was Columbia’s first black City Council member and is still a prominent civic leader. He has received public support from the state and local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The deal with prosecutors has been denounced by some families, who also have the option of suing him in torts. The mishandling of corpses is treated as a distinct tort under the common law and often brings punitive damages.
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