A former apprentice embalmer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to stealing gold crowns from the mouths of the deceased while he worked at a Lancaster funeral home, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.
Pete Jacob Lara, 39, is also accused of taking a cremation urn box and decorative medallions for the urn worth more than $1,000, the DA’s office said. The crimes were allegedly committed between June 2012 and Oct. 28, 2013.
A former employee of the Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home, Lara allegedly went on to pawn the stolen goods.
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He is charged with 23 counts of commercial burglary, possession of methamphetamine, removal of dental gold from human remains and grand theft by embezzlement.
Lara's bail was set at $300,000, and he is due back in court Nov. 12. He could face 19 years in prison.
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