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DA: Mattapan funeral director gave wrong remains to loved ones

A former Mattapan funeral director has been charged with keeping a dozen decomposed human bodies and giving families of deceased the wrong ashes.
















Authorities have charged Mattapan funeral director Joseph O'Donnell with more than 200 counts. Credit: Google Images Authorities have charged Mattapan funeral director Joseph O'Donnell with more than 200 counts. Credit: Google Images



A former Mattapan funeral director has been charged with keeping a dozen decomposed human bodies in a storage facility, giving families of deceased the wrong ashes and stealing just under $150,000 in funeral pre-payments according to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office.









A Suffolk County Grand Jury Wednesday returned a 278-count against 56-year-old Joseph V. O'Donnell. O'Donnell allegedly acted without a license in more than 200 funeral and cremations and forged related records, according to the DA's office. O'Donnell allegedly swindled dozens of seniors who were making their arrangements for their funerals before they died and gave families the wrong cremated remains.





O'Donnell faces 12 counts of improper disposal of human remains for allegedly using a Weymouth storage facility to hold decomposing bodies entrusted to his care. He also faces a slew of fiduciary embezzlement counts for failing to keep funeral pre-payments in a trust.





Additionally, O'Donnell has been indicted on 11 counts for failing to bury the Weymouth bodies after accepting payment to do so. One of the bodies, according to the DA's office, could not be identified and authorities have yet to find records indicating O'Donnell accepted payment for cremation or burial.





O'Donnell is also alleged to have falsifying death certificates and medical examiner certificates.







O'Donnell's license to practice as a funeral director lapsed in late 2008. Between 2009 and the foreclosure of his funeral home in 2013, the DA's office alleges he played a role in at least 201 funerals, burials and cremations.





He also swindled a collection of seniors who were making funeral arrangements before they died by taking 31 advance payments, totalling $149,096.22 That money should have been placed in a trust, but O'Donnell did not do that, telling prosecutors "It's all gone."






He also swindled a collection of seniors who were making funeral arrangements before they died by taking 31 advance payments, totalling $149,096.22 That money should have been placed in a trust, but O'Donnell did not do that, telling prosecutors "It's all gone."





O'Donnell was arrested last April and held on $10,000 bail. He remains in custody. A search of two storage facilities rented by O'Donnell yielded macabre findings.





According to the DA's office, police uncovered 45 sets of cremated remains at a Somerville facility. Many of those remains were decades old are believed to be unclaimed remains previously stored at the now closed Neponset Avenue site. His Weymouth facility had 12 human bodies "in various states of decomposition" and 32 sets of cremated remains.





The families of eight of the deceased found in Weymouth were given ashes belonging to someone other than their loved one. Two sets of those ashes were already scattered by family members, meaning only six can be recovered.





Authorities are still trying to identify an adult female body found at the Weymouth facility.






 

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