- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - A former Boston funeral director improperly stored a dozen bodies, stole almost $150,000 in funeral pre-payments and worked without a license on more than 200 funerals and cremations, prosecutors alleged Wednesday.

The Suffolk County district attorney announced a 278-count indictment against Joseph O’Donnell, 56, who has been in custody since he pleaded not guilty in April to stealing $12,000 in funeral prepayments from an elderly couple.

The new charges include improper disposal of human remains, embezzlement, larceny, forgery, falsifying official documents and acting as a funeral director without a license. O’Donnell’s attorney didn’t return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Prosecutors said O’Donnell’s license expired in 2009 and he continued doing business until the foreclosure of his funeral home in 2013.

Investigators found the 12 decomposed bodies, along with 32 sets of cremated remains, in July in a self-storage facility O’Donnell rented in Weymouth. Prosecutors said in August that 11 of the bodies were identified and their investigation was continuing.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that the 11 bodies were those of people who died when O’Donnell was operating illegally, and the families of eight of them had been given the cremated remains of other people. Prosecutors said six sets of those ashes were recovered but two sets already were scattered. Prosecutors said they are still trying to identify the remains of the 12th body, an adult woman.

At another storage facility O’Donnell rented in Somerville, investigators found 45 sets of cremated remains, which they said were believed to be unclaimed remains from his funeral home.

O’Donnell is due in court Thursday for an administrative hearing on his original case. His arraignment on the new charges hasn’t been scheduled.

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