Calif. woman gets 1½-year term in funeral scam

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 70-year-old woman was sentenced Tuesday to 1½ years in prison and ordered to pay more than $315,000 in restitution for defrauding insurers by faking deaths and staging sham funerals while she worked at a Los Angeles mortuary.

Jean Crump, 70, was one of several people involved in the elaborate scheme to bilk insurance companies out of $1.2 million, authorities said.

The group prepared bogus death certificates for at least two fictitious people, bought a burial plot, and in one instance buried a casket in a phony funeral, authorities said.

Insurance policies were taken out on those who supposedly died. And when insurers investigated, Crump and her cohorts exhumed a coffin, filled it with a mannequin and cow parts and cremated it.

Crump was convicted last year of multiple counts of wire and mail fraud.

Prosecutors said Crump was responsible for doctoring the documents, including those that went to Los Angeles County stating remains were cremated and scattered at sea, even though no corpse existed.

“She was integral to the scheme,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant Gelberg said.

In arguing for probation, defense attorney Stephanie Ames said her client played a small role in the scam and received only about $12,000 in illicit proceeds.

But U.S. District Judge William Keller wasn’t swayed, and believed Crump should serve some time behind bars for her crimes. He also gave her three years’ supervised release.

“She never said, ‘I’m sorry,’” Keller said. “She has shown no remorse, zero. To me, that is offensive.”

Crump, dressed all in white and walking with a cane, declined to speak at the hearing.

Three others pleaded guilty to their roles in the scam, including phlebotomist Faye Shilling, who received a two-year prison sentence.

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