JOHNSTOWN — A funeral director accused of mishandling corpses conceded to six charges Wednesday in Fulton County Court.
Brian Barnett, formerly of Ehle-Barnett Funeral Home, pleaded guilty to one count of third degree grand larceny, human corpse concealment, improper burial, scheme to defraud, operating a funeral firm unlicensed, WNYT NewsChannel 13 first reported.
The case stems from early last year when police, responding to a complaint, found bodies — one of which was “surrounded in children’s toys,” court documents show. Barnett allegedly gave families the wrong remains after failing to cremate the deceased.
He turned himself in after he went missing for several days.
Facing less severe charges back in August, Barnett was originally expected to plead guilty. But, that changed after prosecutors learned that there were a number of funeral services unfulfilled. Then-acting Fulton County District Attorney Amanda Nellis began upgrading charges in the later half of last year.
Barnett, who was previously fined $1,000 for registering a funeral 140 days late in 2019, allegedly stole at least $37,214 from patrons. What’s more, Barnett allegedly took such actions while unlicensed.
Some of the 17 bodies were of community figures, including a former BOCES Board of Education president, a Democratic city candidate and a local musician.
In January, Barnett was charged with 17 counts of misdemeanor improper burial, four counts of concealing a corpse, eight counts of knowingly filing inaccurate death-related documents to the state Department of Health and one count of operating a funeral firm unlicensed. He pleaded not guilty to all 37 charges — an assortment of misdemeanors and felonies.
Barnett faces sentencing on June 26 at 10 a.m.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.
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