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.
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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