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Embalmer accused of stealing remains is charged

Suspect allegedly pawned dental gold, other items

City News Service | 11/1/2013, midnight

A former apprentice embalmer accused of stealing dental gold from the mouths of corpses at a Lancaster funeral home was charged Wednesday with more than two-dozen felony counts.

Pete Jacob Lara, 39, is set to be arraigned in Lancaster Superior Court on 23 counts of second-degree commercial burglary and one count each of removal or possession of dental gold from human remains, grand theft by embezzlement and possession of methamphetamine.

Lara is a former employee of Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Lara, arrested Monday by sheriff’s deputies, allegedly took gold crowns and other items, including a cremation urn box and medallions used to decorate urn boxes, and pawned them, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The alleged crimes date back to June 25, 2012, police said.

Prosecutors were asking that his bail be set at $510,000.

Lara faces up to 19 years in state prison, if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.