By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado undertaker is accused of stealing dental gold from corpses and cremated remains at funeral homes where he worked and then pawning the ill-gotten bits of precious metal for nearly $4,300, authorities said on Wednesday.
Adrian David Kline, 43, who worked as a contract embalmer at several Denver-area mortuaries, is charged with providing false information to pawnbrokers, according to a 10-count indictment returned last week in Boulder County District Court and released on Wednesday.
He is accused of lying to several pawnbrokers about where he obtained the gold and with providing a phony address in violation of Colorado law. Eight of the charges are felonies.
The investigation began when a pawnbroker in Longmont, Colorado, contacted police to report that a man who said he worked at a funeral home was trying to hock gold crowns he brought into the shop.
Longmont police Commander Jeff Satur said on Wednesday investigators tracked Kline's activities and recovered "several bags" of dental gold that he sold to area pawns shops.
One of those shop owners, Ted Willis, told Reuters he bought gold from Kline on a couple of occasions but stopped because it took too much work to extract the gold from the dental crowns.
He said Kline told him the crowns belonged to a relative who was a dentist.
"People have done that before, so it was not that unusual," Willis said.
One of the mortuary operators told police that Kline, as an embalmer, was not authorized to have access to the area where metals were removed from corpses or cremated remains, Satur said.
When detectives searched Kline's home, they found a box filled with tools and gold crowns under his kitchen sink.
"In that box was ... two pairs of pliers, a sanding block, tweezers, sandpaper, vise grips, gloves, and 10 pieces of possible gold," the indictment said.
Kline confessed to investigators that he took the gold, according to the indictment, but said he thought the gold and other metals were going to be thrown out by the funeral homes.
He lied about his address and how he obtained the gold because he was "embarrassed by his actions" and wanted to protect the mortuaries where he worked, the indictment said.
Kline turned himself into police, and his bond was set at $2,500, court records showed.