(TOLEDO, Ohio) — A Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge found Shawnte Hardin guilty of multiple felony charges for providing funeral services without a license.
In total, Hardin was found guilty on 31 charges:
- One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity (F1)
- Three counts of tampering with records (F3)
- Two counts of telecommunications fraud (F5)
- One count of operating an unlicensed funeral home (unclassified misdemeanor)
- One count of possessing criminal tools (F5)
- Six counts of abuse of a corpse (F5)
- Eight counts of representation of a funeral director while unlicensed (unclassified misdemeanor)
- Four counts of passing bad checks (F5)
- Two counts of theft (F4 and F5)
- Three counts of failure to file taxes (F5)
The case was heard by a judge after the defendant waived his right to have the case heard by a jury.
Hardin operated several businesses in Lucas, Cuyahoga, Summit and Franklin counties. The business names included Hussain Funeral Directors, Celebration of Life Memorial Chapels, Hardin Funeral Home, Inc., American Mortuary Services and Transportation, and Shawnte Davon Hardin Services, LLC. The original charges filed in the case accounted for crimes committed in each of the counties as part of a continuing course of criminal activity.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence of Hardin running an unlicensed funeral home that exemplified Hardin’s criminal enterprise. In Sept. 2021, Hardin was in the news when the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation removed two bodies from a building he was using for makeshift funeral serves at 1615 E. Livingston Ave. in Columbus.
In January, more than 80 created remains were located at 825 East Buchtel Ave. in Akron at Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church. Many of the remains have been identified and returned to family members, although some have yet to be claimed. Families whose loved ones may be impacted may contact BCI at 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446).
Hardin will be sentenced on Friday, Aug. 26, at 9 a.m.
The case was prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions Section of the Attorney General’s Office and was investigated by AG’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Special Prosecutions Section, and the Ohio Department of Funeral and Embalmers.