The woman who earlier this summer was charged with “corpse abuse” for improperly handling bodies at her funeral home has been found abusing something else — government benefits.
Rachel Hardy-Johnson, who ran Johnson Family Mortuary in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband Dondre, has been indicted for fraudulently filing for food stamps. By not disclosing her income or the two businesses she operated at the time of filing, she also received housing subsidies, federal education funding, and Medicaid benefits.
She has been charged with one count each of food stamp benefit fraud and theft of educational funds, and two counts of theft of federal public money. The maximum sentence for these crimes is 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
This comes on top of the seven counts of corpse abuse filed against her in July when eight decaying bodies were discovered in her funeral home. According to the Tarrant Count Medical Examiner’s office, seven of the eight bodies were in advanced stages of decomposition, and one appeared mummified and was infested with insects. None had been refrigerated.
Also found at the scene were the remains of two stillborn children. Fluids were leaking from the bodies onto the floor, where buckets had been placed to try to contain the fluids. The odor of decay could be smelled from the parking lot.
To make matters worse, had Rachel and Dondre paid their rent on time, none of this would have been discovered. Their landlord, who had evicted them two weeks prior, came upon the grisly scene when checking to make sure they’d moved out. The Johnsons weren’t there, but to his horror, eight rotting corpses — including a child and an infant — were. The landlord, James Labenz, estimates that they owe him $15,000 in unpaid rent.
“In a few days from now, we’ll be on a reality show,” Dondre said in July, before the charges were filed. “So I want all this media.”
At least one former client, Patricia Fillmore, accused the Johnsons of scamming her out of $400. She had paid them to bury her grandmother, but after they “mishandled” the funeral plans, Fillmore and her family had to take her grandmother to another mortuary. The money was never refunded.
Corpse abuse carries a much lighter sentence than defrauding the government, with a maximum sentence of one year in prison and fines of up to $4,000 per count — $28,000 each, in Rachel and Dondre’s cases.
The pair recently appeared before the Texas Funeral Service Commission asking for their funeral license back. Their license expired shortly after the corpses were discovered and was not renewed.
“I was denied my provisional license,” Hardy-Johnson told the commission. “I’d like to know why I was denied that.”