Missouri funeral home director sentenced to home detention

Monday, January 11, 2010 | 7:52 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Former funeral home director Harold Warren Sr. was sentenced Monday to 60 days in jail and five years of probation.

In the sentencing hearing, 13th Circuit Court Judge Gary Oxenhandler said Warren could serve the 60 days in home detention instead of jail so that he can attend church, as requested by Warren's attorney, Dan Viets.

Oxenhandler also granted Viets' request that Warren be placed on probation due to his age, lack of a felony record and "great service to his community." Viets noted that Warren is a Korean War veteran and Columbia's first black City Council member.

Stewart Freilich, representing the Missouri Attorney General's office, said the state did not have a recommendation as to whether Warren should receive probation.

In 2008, Warren Funeral Chapel was shut down for malpractice and unsanitary conditions. Warren, 77, and his son, Harold Warren Jr., subsequently lost their funeral directors' and embalmers' licenses, according to previous Missourian reporting.

In November, Warren pleaded guilty to the charges against him, according to Missouri

Freilich asked that the families hurt by the funeral chapel's business practices receive a public apology.

"He thoughtlessly and foolishly told lies to his clients, and these lies were soon discovered," Freilich said.

Oxenhandler said while there were many letters submitted on behalf on Warren claiming him to be a "man of God," letters from victims were in stark contrast. He read an excerpt from a letter submitted by the mother of a victim before he handed down his decision.

"This was not a mistake; it was intentional. My daughter was in the hands of someone without a soul. He should never be allowed near a funeral home again. May God have mercy on him," Oxenhandler read.

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