Guilty plea in former funeral home director’s theft, abuse case

A surprise guilty plea in the case of a former Lancaster County Funeral Director. Benjamin Siar, 42, of Lancaster, will serve five to ten years in prison for more than 80 counts of theft and fraud charges.

Siar’s trial before Judge Dennis Reinaker was set to begin today, but before it started, Siar informed his defense attorney, Alan Goldberg, that he would like to enter a guilty plea.

Police arrested Siar on February 1, 2013, initially on four charges of theft by deception and four charges of abuse of a corpse. The charges stemmed from a January search of the Gundel Funeral Home in Conestoga, where Siar was funeral director and owner.

Investigators found four bodies left out in various stages of decomposition inside the funeral home, including the body of a two-year-old girl who was the victim of a homicide.

In April, District Attorney Craig Stedman added 75 additional counts of theft and fraud for funeral services that families paid for, but never received.

Stedman said Siar stole nearly $200,000 from 38 Gundel clients.

“People are just in disbelief that they’d been taken advantage of at such a moment in their lives and obviously he betrayed the trust of all of these individuals, of the entire industry,” Stedman said after the hearing.

Siar was only sentenced for his financial crimes. Goldberg said his client is satisfied with the sentence.

He is set to back in court on March 26th for sentencing on four abuse of corpse charges.

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