Kansas Man Jailed For Illegal Autopsy

According to the US Department of Justice, a man from Kansas was given a sentence of five years and nine months after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud related to performing an unlawful autopsy.

It was announced on Monday that 42-year-old Topeka resident Shawn Lynn Parcells had been charged with fraud for using his business, National Autopsy Services LLC, to “collect money from more than 350 clients for a total amount of $1,166,000,” as stated in court documents obtained by the DOJ. “The defendant often failed to produce a genuine, final report.”

Kansas Man Jailed For Illegal Autopsy
Kansas Man Jailed For Illegal Autopsy

According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Parcells admitted guilt in May for using forged documents to convince a client that he was competent to do an autopsy. Despite the fact that no pathologist participated in the examination or report, Parcells was paid $5,000 and emailed a copy of the final report to the customer.

After assisting with the autopsy of Michael Brown, the young Black man killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, Parcells became a media darling, appearing on major news networks multiple times as a forensic pathology expert.

Parcells’ plans were based on exploiting the sadness and bereavement of others, making his act a particularly predatory felony, US Attorney Duston Slinkard said in a release this week.

During an interview with CNN in 2014, Parcells revealed that he occasionally does out autopsies without a doctor present, claiming that this is permissible so long as he is working under the supervision of a doctor and the doctor approves of the report.

Parcells, who at the time claimed to have learned how to perform autopsies through “on-the-job training” by observing pathologists and assisting them at various morgues, did not hold any official license or certification for his work. Parcells revealed to CNN that his compensation for such services varied.

According to a press statement from the Kansas Attorney General’s office, in August a county district judge in Kansas permanently barred Parcells from conducting business and ordered him to pay more than $250,000 in restitution “connected to providing illicit autopsy services.”

The statement read, “He is obligated to comply with all Kansas statutes that control any profession, and is banned from using any titles or initials that include professions in the healing arts or any other profession for which he is not educated, certified, or qualified.”

David Magariel, Parcells’ attorney, declined to respond to CNN but instead cited his client’s sentencing document from earlier this month. The defense memo stated that the average sentence for someone with Parcells’ criminal background in the District of Kansas was less than 24 months.

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