A former funeral home co-owner will have to wait a little longer for prosecutors to respond to the appeal she filed against the sentence for mail fraud in a scheme to sell bodies and body parts to third parties without the consent or knowledge of families, according to the Montrose Daily Press.
Megan Hess, 45, and her mother, 68-year-old Shirley Koch, pleaded guilty in July 2022 to one count of mail fraud inMesa County, Colorado, the 2020 Department of Justice indictment alleges.
The DOJ statement accuses both women of returning remains to families that weren’t those of their loved ones, and of mailing body parts infected with diseases to buyers while forging paperwork to claim they were disease-free.
Koch, in specific, pleaded guilty to her part in the fraud, and is accused of actually harvesting the body parts to sell, the Press says. On Jan. 3, 2023, U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello sentenced Hess to 20 years in prison and Koch to 15 years.
Now, Koch is claiming the sentence is much longer than the terms of the plea agreement she originally cooperated with, the Press states. She adds that the sentence aligns more with the judge’s “moral outrage” and that she is being punished for the crimes of her daughter. Koch is requesting a new sentence to align with her original agreement: 63 to 78 months.
The US Attorney’s Office has requested for more time to respond to the appeal due to the number of other cases they are wrapped up in, the Press reports. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Ford Milani said in a July 14, 2023 motion that prosecutors won’t be able to file an answer before the July 21 deadline.
Koch didn’t oppose, and the judge gave an extension to August 21, 2023, the Press says.
Koch previously said that she believed such donations of organs as she and Hess offered were vital to finding cures, while Hess’ attorney claimed her intentions were “pure” and that she “didn’t kill anybody,” the Press previously reported.
However, the US Attorney’s Office placed a monetary value of $1.2 million of damage upon Hess and Koch’s actions, the Press says. Hess argued that that since the buyers benefited, such monetary loss didn’t exist, while the prosecution retorted that had buyers known the circumstances under which the body parts were being sold, no sales would have occurred at all.
Judge Christine Arguello said the loss was “just not measurable,” the Press says.
Hess is also appealing her sentence, according to the Press. She further claimed that the cost of the services should be deducted from the loss calculations, rendering the loss total to under $1 million, and therefore should shorten her sentence.