LANCASTER, Calif. — A former apprentice embalmer accused of stealing dental gold from the mouths of corpses at a Lancaster funeral home was charged today with more than two-dozen felony counts.
Pete Jacob Lara, 39, pleaded not guilty to 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 to June 25, 2012, police said.
Lara — who was ordered to be jailed in lieu of $300,000 bail — is due back in Lancaster Superior Court Nov. 12 for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
He faces up to 19 years in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.