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Coroner takes to task Ohio man accused of running a fake funeral business

Shawnte Hardin faces more than two dozen criminal charges involving impersonating a funeral director, passing bad checks and abuse of a corpse.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Shawnte Hardin hired a transport company to take a body from the Lucas County morgue and deliver it to a building in Toledo. But when the transport company saw the building, it called back to the Lucas County Coroner's Office to say something doesn't feel right.

"You can't leave an un-embalmed person in an unprotected room," said Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett, the Lucas County Coroner.

Hardin faces more than two dozen criminal charges involving impersonating a funeral director, passing bad checks and abuse of a corpse. Tuesday marked the second day of the trial.

The coroner said the body she observed in the Toledo building had no business being there because, among other things, the body was not embalmed and not in a place that was refrigerated which she says speeds up decomposition.

"The body was laying on one of the collapsible party tables," she said.

The question a judge must decide is whether Hardin did anything illegal.

Under Ohio law, anyone can transport and pick up a deceased person. Anyone can fill out a partial death certificate, Hardin's attorney says. There are no requirements that funeral directors show proof of who they are when retrieving a body from a funeral home or a morgue.

The state argues Hardin did operate outside the law by telling clients he was a funeral director including those who work in the funeral business.

Tuesday's trial was delayed by nearly a half-hour because Hardin wasn't there. He told 10TV he was late because of traffic coming out of Akron.

Day three of the trial starts Wednesday. The state could rest its case sometime next week.

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