Former Akron pastor under investigation after cremated remains were found inside his church sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison

Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 11:58 PM EDT

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The former lead pastor of an Akron church is found guilty of operating a funeral home without a license, and is now headed to prison for nearly 12 years.

Minister Shawnte Hardin was convicted in early August on 31 criminal charges that include: operating an unlicensed funeral home, abuse of a corpse, passing bad checks, theft, and tampering with records.

Pastor Hardin is the same man linked to the cremated remains of nearly 90 people found inside of Hardin’s now former church on Buchtel Avenue, that case remains under investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. According to Hardin’s attorney the cremated bodies were being stored at the church, after a friend of Hardin’s who was a Toledo funeral home director, lost his license. That funeral director said he was storing the cremains as he tried to locate relatives of the deceased, but that Toledo funeral director has since passed away.

Before Hardin was sentenced to 11 years and 10 months in prison by a judge in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, those he hurt yelled in outrage, including one woman in tears who yelled, “You lied to me, you lied to me!” Another woman in tears asked Hardin, “Is this how you treat family?”

The Prosecutor said substantial incarceration was needed for a man who violated the public’s trust and impersonated a funeral director in at least 4 counties, including Cuyahoga County.