A Kansas man has been sentenced to five years and nine months in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud related to an illegal autopsy, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Shawn Lynn Parcells, 42, of Topeka, used his business National Autopsy Services LLC to “obtain fees from more than 350 clients totaling $1,166,000,” according to court documents, the DOJ said in a statement Monday. “In many cases, the defendant did not provide a truthful report.”
In the case to which he pleaded guilty in May, Parcells used false credentials to convince a client that he was qualified to perform an autopsy, the DOJ said in a statement. Parcells received $5,000 and emailed the client a copy of the final report written by Parcells, but no pathologist was involved in the examination or report, the statement said.
Parcells gained national media attention after assisting with the autopsy requested by the family of Michael Brown, the young black man killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. He was repeatedly featured as a forensic pathology expert.
“It’s troubling when criminals work as professionals to defraud unwitting victims, but Parcells’ scheme was based on exploiting the distress and grief of others, making his actions a particularly predatory crime,” said U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard. this week’s release.
Parcells told CNN in 2014 that he sometimes performs autopsy procedures without a doctor present, which he said is legal as long as it’s under a doctor’s supervision and the doctor signs off on the report.
At the time, Parcells did not have a specific license or certification to do the work he was doing and said he knew how to perform autopsies from “on-the-job training,” seeing pathologists and assisting at various funeral homes. Parcells told CNN that sometimes he was paid for those jobs and sometimes he wasn’t.
A Kansas County judge in August permanently banned Parcells from doing business and ordered him to pay more than $250,000 “in connection with providing illegal autopsy services,” according to a statement from the Kansas Attorney General’s office.
“Must comply with all Kansas statutes governing any profession, and is prohibited from using titles or initials that include professions in the healing arts or any other profession for which he is not educated, certified or qualified,” the statement said. .
CNN has reached out to Parcells’ attorney for comment.