Los Angeles funeral home owner accused of allowing bodies to rot

Los Angeles funeral home owner accused of allowing bodies to rot
Investigation began last year amid complaints from families

The owner of a funeral home in Los Angeles has been accused of allowing 11 bodies to rot inside his former business, which shuttered last year.

In a statement on Friday, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said owner Mark Bruce Allen had allowed 11 bodies, including those of infants, to rot inside the home in Sun Valley.

He now faces 22 misdemeanour charges for failing to properly bury the remains, which the attorney’s office said “were found in various stages of decay and mummification” on two inspections last year.

“Eleven people died, including very young children, and the funeral director hired to compassionately prepare the bodies for burial allegedly just let them rot,” said City Attorney Mike Feuer in the statement announcing charges against the business, Mark B Allen.

“Their deaths are one tragedy, and this alleged monstrous mistreatment is a second tragedy,” the attorney continued, while saying the alleged treatment of the deceased lacked “neither the decency nor the dignity that all our loved ones deserve”.

An investigation into the funeral home reported began after families reported the Mark B Allen funeral home to authorities for allegedly failing to release bodies, The Los Angeles Times reported of court filings. 

Investigators from the state Cemetery and Funeral Bureau – who carried out two visits to the business – allegedly found a fridge containing dead bodies with a temperature of 60 F (or 15.5 C), and flies outside the building, on a visit last year, NBC News reported on Friday.

The bureau, which filed a petition to request Mr Allen’s licence be revoked, also claimed investigators found a “foul and overwhelmingly strong” smell “of decomposition”, outside the building.

The funeral home’s licence was revoked in September 2021 following that petition, with an investigation leading to the charges announced by the city attorney on Friday.

Regulations for funeral home regulations vary across the US, with some states requiring annual inspections and several requiring no inspections at all.

In one extreme case, a funeral home operator pleaded guilty allowing more than 330 bodies to decay in Noble, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Atlanta. 

The Independent has approached Mr Allen for comment. He faces up to 11 years in jail and a maximum penalty of $110,000 (£87,485). It was not clear if he had a lawyer.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.