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Attorney General's News Release

November 16, 2009

Attorney General Koster announces guilty plea in Boone County funeral fraud case

-- Harold Warren Sr. pleads guilty to three counts of fraud--

Columbia, Mo. -– Attorney General Chris Koster said today that Harold Warren, Sr., owner of the Warren Funeral Chapel in Columbia, has pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful merchandising practices. He said Warren was indicted by a Boone County Grand Jury in September. Warren will be sentenced January 11.

Koster said Warren pleaded guilty to misrepresenting to consumers that he was providing them with the cremated ashes of family members, but that the ashes he gave the consumers were not actually the remains of their family members.

“Harold Warren, Sr., took advantage of consumers at a time when they were especially vulnerable,” Koster said. “The Attorney General’s Office will continue to aggressively seek justice against those who prey on our citizens when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Koster said unlawful merchandising practices is a class D felony under Missouri law, punishable in this case by a sentence up to 12 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. He said under the plea agreement, the state will recommend 4 years imprisonment for each of the three counts, to run concurrently. He said the state would not oppose suspending the execution of sentence and placing Warren on four years probation, subject to restitution of $2,685 to his victims; a public apology printed in the newspaper; and an agreement that during the term of his probation he will not engage in the sale of funeral merchandise, will not own, operate or manage a funeral home, and will not engage in the disposition, internment, burial or embalming of dead bodies.

Judge Gary Oxenhandler will determine whether to sentence Warren to serve four years in prison, place him on probation subject to the conditions in the plea agreement or to place him on probation subject to additional conditions.

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