TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A man accused of running unlicensed funeral operations in four counties across Ohio was convicted Friday of dozens of felony charges.
Shawnte Hardin, 41, maintained his innocence after a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge found him guilty of 31 counts, concluding a bench trial that began earlier this year, Hardin, who was acquitted on six counts, is due to be sentenced Aug. 26, but it was not clear Friday if he would be facing a lengthy prison term.
Authorities have said Hardin ran funeral services in Summit, Cuyahoga, Franklin and Lucas counties without having a license. He had pleaded not guilty to various counts, including tampering with records, passing bad checks, identity fraud and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Hardin was initially indicted in late 2021 after being accused of running an unlicensed funeral operation. The investigation had begun a short time earlier after someone called 911 and reported seeing a corpse being moved from a van into a building. State agents subsequently removed two bodies from the site.
Hardin told a Columbus television station at the time he was not acting as a funeral director but instead offered low cost services for transporting and washing dead bodies.
In January, authorities said investigators had found the cremated remains of 89 people stored in boxes and bags at an abandoned church owned by Hardin in Akron.