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Penrose funeral home owners facing federal fraud charges, in FBI custody

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) - The owners of the Returned to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, where almost 200 decomposing bodies were found improperly stored, are now in federal custody and are facing new federal fraud charges.

The Hallford's stand accused of improperly storing nearly 200 decomposing bodies at their Penrose funeral home from 2019-2023. The couple is facing 260 criminal charges, including abuse of a corpse, money laundering, forgery, and theft. 

KRDO13 Investigates learned that Jon and Carie Hallford were back in the El Paso County Jail on April 14 on a hold by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The El Paso County Sheriff's Office (EPSO) confirmed that around 8:30 a.m. on April 15, the Hallfords were transferred to federal custody.

New court records show that Jon and Carie have over a dozen pending federal counts, consisting of Wire Fraud and Aiding and Abetting, and Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud.

The couple appeared in Denver's U.S District Court on Monday in shackles, with Jon and Carie sat a part from one another. The husband and wife were not in orange jumpsuits, but rather their plainclothes. Jon could be seen wearing a 'Whataburger' graphic t-shirt, while Carie wore a black blouse with denim jeans.

The two are now accused of 10 counts of wire fraud, for instances where they swiped the credit cards of families paying for cremation or burial services, charging an average of $1,280 dollars.

In addition, the indictment papers allege that from 2020 into 2021, the Hallford's submitted paperwork for loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA), using false information to stretch their eligibility. They say Jon and Carie each knowingly lied on those applications, such as not reporting the fact that Jon was more than 60 days late on child support obligations, which was required by a district court within the State of Oklahoma.

The couple's falsified applications resulted in them receiving three different loan payments from the SBA, totaling $882,300.

In addition to the several hundred thousand dollars in SBA loans, prosecutors allege that upwards of $130,000 dollars which the Hallfords earned from pocketing cremation and burial payments from families, were spent on: 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.

In court on Monday afternoon, the defense for Jon Hallford argued against the prosecution's request for a three-day hold, which would keep Jon and Carie in custody until their next court date this Thursday, April 18th.

Earlier this year, the Hallfords both posted surety bonds with the help of a bondsman on their 260-plus felony state charges, stemming from the on-going investigation into their funeral home business and improperly storing bodies.

In response to the defense, the prosecution argued that Jon and Carie pose a serious flight risk. They explained that the Hallfords already demonstrated that risk factor when they fled in October 2023 from Colorado to a home owned by Jon's father on a reservation in Oklahoma.

Now, with more serious charges tacked on from the federal government, which can carry up to 20 years in prison per count, along with fines and multiple years of mandatory probation, prosecutors proposed that their flight risk was even more of a concern.

The judge sided with the prosecution, and granted the three day hold for Jon and Carie.

The two will remain in federal custody while they await a court date on Thursday, April 18 to decide future detention matters and an arraignment date. Both sides will also present more evidence for the federal case.

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Emily Arseneau

Emily is the Digital Content Director for KRDO NewsChannel 13 Learn more about her here.

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Tyler Cunnington

Tyler is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.


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