JOHNSTOWN — Former Ehle-Barnett Funeral Home director Brian M. Barnett turned himself into police custody Monday night a few hours after the Johnstown Police Department announced on social media that they had an active arrest warrant for him, and that they believed he might “have left the area.”
Johnstown police confirmed Barnett, age 35, was arrested on the charges listed in his arrest warrant, which include:
• 3 counts of concealment of a human corpse, a Class E felony
• 1 count of grand larceny in the Fourth-Degree, also a Class E felony
• 1 count grand larceny in the Third-Degree, a class D felony
• 3 counts of failing to bury a body within a reasonable amount of time, an unclassified misdemeanor
• 2 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor
• 1 count of operating a funeral home without a license, an unclassified misdemeanor, and
• 4 counts of operating as a funeral director without a valid license, also an unclassified misdemeanor
Police said Barnett will be arraigned in Johnstown City Court, but did not say when.
The charges against Barnett are the same ones first revealed by Johnstown Police Chief David Gilbo at a news conference on Jan. 21, which indicated that Barnett had neither been arrested nor arraigned on them.
After police released the public arrest warrant on social media Monday, numerous people posted comments on Facebook in response and falsely connected Barnett’s arrest warrant to the controversial issue of New York state’s “bail reform” policies, enacted in 2020, falsely believing Barrett had been previously arrested and then released without bail. If Barnett had been arrested and missed a court appearance for one of the aforementioned charges he faces, he would be facing an additional charge, a bench warrant for his failure to appear in court.
Barnett still owns the Ehle-Barnett Funeral Home on North Williams Street, where four bodies and 18 cremated remains were discovered in January after police say they received a complaint from a family on Jan. 10 unable to reach Barnett for several weeks after hiring him to conduct a cremation. Two of those bodies were found in Barnett’s garage, in what police described as an advanced state of decomposition.
The police investigation into Barnett revealed his license to practice as a funeral director was suspended in November 2021, while the funeral home itself has been unlicensed since June 2021.
During the Jan. 21 news conference, Gilbo said that after the police completed their search of the funeral home, Barnett was transported to the Johnstown Police Department for questioning following the discovery of the decomposing bodies. Gilbo said he was then taken to St. Mary’s Healthcare for evaluation, but did not elaborate on the reason for it.
This newspaper’s attempts to contact Barnett and members of his family Monday night were not successful.
The arrest warrant announcement contained no new information about any additional charges against Barnett. Gilbo on Jan. 21 said police were investigating the funeral home’s financial records for any possible business-related crimes.
There was also no new information regarding whether police had identified any of the unknown human remains found at the funeral home on Jan. 10.