LAKE COUNTY, Colorado — The former Lake County coroner pleaded guilty last week to two misdemeanor counts related to the handling of the cremated remains of a stillborn baby that were found at his Leadville funeral home.
Shannon Kent pleaded guilty to two counts of Unlawful Acts – Cremation on Dec. 22. As a result, 12 other counts were dismissed, according to the 5th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
Kent was set to be sentenced Feb. 2. Each count carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. He could receive both a fine and prison time.
In February 2020, a woman contacted the Lake County Sheriff's Office and said she had given birth to a stillborn baby at 35 weeks in December 2019.
Following her baby's death, she and her fiancé reached out to Kent Funeral Home. She later told investigators that working with the Kents was "nothing short of a nightmare."
She said it started out with a lack of communication and she eventually received cremated remains that she was "not sure" were her son's, in part because the ashes would not fit in the infant-sized urn they had purchased.
Investigators called in experts to examine the remains and determined the remains belonged to a "minimum of two people" including an infant and a "larger individual."
Shannon Kent and his wife Stacie were both arrested in February 2021 after law enforcement found a deceased person in a coffin at the former Kent-Bailey Funeral Home.
In that case, the victim died in a Park County crash in July of 2020. His remains were found at their Silverthorne funeral home in February 2021.
A Clear Creek County jury acquitted the couple on charges related to the case in February.
Shannon Kent was first elected coroner in 2014 and then reelected in 2018. He resigned from his position in August 2021.
The Kents surrendered their license to operate a funeral home in Colorado in December 2020.
Shannon Kent was convicted in September on a charge of second-degree official misconduct after he sent his wife to several death scenes in 2019, despite her not being a deputy coroner. He was sentenced to six months' unsupervised probation for that conviction.
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