Penrose funeral home owners facing federal charges, accused of misusing COVID relief money

Return to Nature
Posted at 5:12 PM, Apr 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-16 15:21:48-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The co-owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose are back in custody facing new felony wire fraud charges.

The federal indictment accuses Jon and Carie Hallford of fraudulently misrepresenting their funeral home business to receive a total of nearly $900,000 in COVID-19 federal relief funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act.

Court documents said the Hallfords made material misrepresentations on loan documentations regarding their eligibility to qualify for the funds. The indictment said instead of using the money solely for business expenses, the Hallfords used the bulk of the loan on things like a vehicle, multiple vacations, entertainment, dining, tuition for a minor child, cryptocurrency, cosmetic medical procedures, jewelry, various goods and merchandise from Amazon, and payments to other vendors unrelated to their business.

The federal indictment also accuses the couple of collecting $130,000 from victims families over a period of four years for cremation or burial services which were never provided. The document said the Hallfords attempted to conceal their fraudulent activity by allowing 190 bodies to decompose inside the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose.

According to the federal court documents, the two face 13 federal charges for Wire Fraud and Aiding and Abetting and 2 federal charges for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud.

The couple made their first appearances for the new charges in a federal courtroom in Denver on Monday afternoon. The Hallfords will remain in custody for at least three days until their next court appearance on Thursday, April 15 at 10 a.m. During that hearing, Judge Scott T. Varholak will hear arguments from attorneys and then decide whether or not to release the couple until trial.

Jon and Carie Hallford had previously bonded out of the El Paso County Jail after posting $100,000 each.

Crystina Page, whose son's body was identified inside the funeral home, said prosecutors told her there's a possibility the couple will be released again.

“The prosecutors did caution me that we need to be prepared for them to be released again on Thursday. So again, I'm optimistic. I really am hoping that they're detained, but it didn't seem like that was the probability to me," said Page.

You can read the federal indictment for yourself here.

The Hallfords also face 260 counts, including abuse of a corpse, money laundering, theft, and forgery, after investigators said 190 bodies were found left to rot inside their Penrose funeral home last October.


KOAA News5 has a full timeline of the developing events of the Return to Nature Funeral Home investigation.

Fremont Co. Sheriff recalls 'horrific' scene at funeral home where 115 'improperly stored' bodies discovered

Investigation into 115 bodies continues at Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose
Governor declares emergency disaster for Penrose funeral home, months-long identification process expected

State records: Penrose funeral home owner attempted to conceal improperly stored remains

Coroner: Some remains in Return to Nature Funeral Home investigation were 'several years old'

Class action lawsuit filed against Return to Nature where 189 remains were discovered

'I want to help,' one women encourages Return to Nature Funeral Home victims, to reach out to her for support

I'm losing him all over again’: Widow fears husband a victim in funeral home investigation

Authorities in Oklahoma arrest owners of Return to Nature Funeral Home

Owners of Return to Nature Funeral Home appear in El Paso County Court

Judge agrees to unseal arrest papers for one of the Penrose funeral home owners

Judge reduces bond for funeral home owner accused of improperly storing 190 bodies

Return to Nature Funeral Home owner bonds out of El Paso County Jail Tuesday

Co-owner of Penrose funeral home released on bail Monday night, families react

One of the owners of the Return to Nature Funeral in court today

Jury trial expected for Return to Nature funeral home owners, arraignment hearing postponed

The EPA will begin to demolish the Return To Nature Funeral Home in Penrose next week

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