Former pastor sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison after cremated remains found inside his church

Shawnte Hardin was sentenced to 12 years in prison. (SOURCE: WOIO)
Published: Aug. 28, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND (WOIO/Gray News) – The former lead pastor of a church in Ohio was found guilty of operating a funeral home without a license.

He is now headed to prison for almost 12 years, according to WOIO.

Shawnte Hardin was convicted in early August on 31 criminal charges that include operating an unlicensed funeral home, abuse of a corpse, passing bad checks, theft and tampering with records.

Authorities say Hardin is linked to the cremated remains of nearly 90 people found inside of his now former church in Akron.

Hardin’s attorney said the cremated bodies were being stored at the church after a friend of Hardin’s, who was a funeral home director, lost his license. The funeral director said he was storing the cremains as he tried to locate relatives of the deceased, but the funeral director has since passed away.

Before Hardin was sentenced to 11 years and 10 months in prison by a judge in court, WOIO reports that the people he hurt yelled in outrage. One woman reportedly in tears yelled, “You lied to me, you lied to me!”

Another woman in tears asked Hardin, “Is this how you treat family?”

The prosecutor said substantial incarceration was needed for a man who violated the public’s trust and impersonated a funeral director in at least four counties.