Funeral home worker accused of stealing dental gold from bodies

LANCASTER, Calif.

Pete Jacob Lara, 39, is facing more than two dozen felony counts. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Wednesday.

Lara worked as an apprentice embalmer at the Halley Olsen Murphy funeral home. Prosecutors say he sold gold crowns and other items at pawn shops and jewelry exchanges. The alleged crimes took place between June 25, 2012 and Oct. 28, 2013.

Lara was charged with one count each of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; removal or possession of dental gold from human remains; and grand theft by embezzlement. He also faced 23 counts of second-degree commercial burglary.

If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 19 years in state prison.

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