A former funeral home worker in California has been charged with picking through the mouths of the dead to steal gold teeth.
Prosecutors allege that Pete Jacob Lara, a 39-year-old who worked as an embalmer at a funeral home in Lancaster, was behind a string of thefts between June 25, 2012 and Oct. 28, 2013.
They say he took teeth, a cremation urn box and medallions used to decorate urn boxes worth more than $1,000 and pawned them off, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports.
Lara has been charged with removal or possession of dental gold from human remains, grand theft by embezzlement and possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, KTLA reports, citing the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.
Lara pleaded not guilty in court on Wednesday and will return on Nov. 12.