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Man accused of phony funeral home business makes court appearance

Shawnte Hardin, 41, faces 37 charges of allegedly providing funeral services without a license.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Editor's note: The above video aired as a report from WTOL 11 sister station 10TV.

A 41-year-old man wanted in Lucas County on 37 charges related to providing funeral services without a license had his first court appearance Friday.

Shawnte Hardin is facing numerous felony charges, including one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, three counts of records tampering, and eight counts of abuse of a corpse. Hardin has operated businesses in Lucas, Cuyahoga, Summit and Franklin counties since at least 2019.

At Friday's arraignment, he was issued a $250,000 bond with no 10% on the count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and received an own recognizance bond for the other charges he faces.

A pretrial date of Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. was set and his trial is to begin Feb. 7. 

The Ohio Attorney General's Office had an attorney there Friday acting as a state prosecutor.

Hardin was arrested Wednesday after being arrested by Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers.

OSHP said Wednesday that Hardin was the passenger in a vehicle stopped for a traffic violation. When it was discovered Hardin had a warrant for his arrest, officers placed him in custody. He is being held on a $250,000 bond, with a trial date set for Feb. 7.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation recently removed two bodies from a building in Columbus that Hardin was using for makeshift funeral services, according to the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

The full list of charges against Hardin:

  • One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony.
  • Three counts of tampering with records, third-degree felonies.
  • One count of theft, a fourth-degree felony.
  • Eight counts of abuse of a corpse, all fifth-degree felonies.
  • Five counts of failure to file taxes, all fifth-degree felonies.
  • Five counts of passing bad checks, all fifth-degree felonies.
  • Two counts of identity fraud, both fifth-degree felonies.
  • Two counts of telecommunications fraud, both fifth-degree felonies.
  • Six counts of representation as a funeral director while unlicensed, two unclassified felonies and four unclassified misdemeanors.
  • Single counts of fifth-degree felony criminal tools and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
  • One count of operating an unlicensed funeral home, an unclassified felony.
  • One count of failure to refrigerate a human body, an unclassified misdemeanor.

The business names included Hussain Funeral Directors, Celebration of Life Memorial Chapels, Hardin Funeral Home, Inc., American Mortuary Services and Transportation, and Shawnte Davon Hardin Services, LLC.

On Sept. 30, two bodies were taken from Hardin’s business in Columbus by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The Ohio Attorney General’s office said Hardin was using the location for makeshift funeral services.

Hardin admitted at the time that two embalmed bodies were taken from his business but has denied they were kept in unsafe conditions.

Hardin told 10TV his business was made to help families by offering lower-cost prices for transporting the body, washing the body and providing make-up.

In 2019, Hardin was indicted on a felony of passing bad checks in Summit County after a woman claimed Hardin never paid for the plot she paid for or the headstone. Hardin said Friday that the case has been resolved and the family was made whole.

In 2018, Toledo police investigated Hardin after reports surfaced of a body improperly stored in a building behind a church on Airport Highway. Hardin was listed as a suspect on the police report, but no charges were filed.

RELATED: 11 Investigates: Coroner speaks out about body found in storage building, calling conditions ‘public health hazard’

RELATED: Shawnte Hardin indicted on 37 charges related to running a phony funeral business

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