Former funeral home director pleads guilty to 62 charges
LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A former funeral home director admits he mishandled human remains and reported that perfectly healthy people were dead. However, he could be out of jail in just months.
For the first time today--we heard Richard Pyke apologize to his victims. Even though he admits he is guilty, he might not spend much more time behind bars.
"Yeah. I was dead according to them," said LaDonna Campbell-- just one of many fraud victims--taken by Richard Pyke. "I don't really hold too much animosity towards Rick, I know he got in over his head," she added.
Pyke was a funeral director in Henryville, who would cash-in on preburial arrangements claiming the person--like Campbell--was dead. Other victims were given ashes that were NOT the cremains of their loved ones. He would also keep money that should have gone to local cemeteries. Pyke took thousands of dollars from people--many of them elderly. In court Monday, he apologized. He says his financial situation got out of control, calling it a case of keeping up with the Joneses--always wanting more and more for his family and business.
After pleading guilty to 62 counts of theft, fraud, and violation of cremation statute among other charges, two people took the stand on Pyke's behalf. "In this case it was a relief to our victims," said Prosecutor Steve Stewart.
Judge Vicki Carmichael sentenced him to 16 years in jail--the maximum. But with 10 of those years suspended--2 years already served--and good behavior---Pyke could be out of jail in 9-10 months.
He would not talk about his sentencing, but alluded that he may in the future. "I'll give you a call," he said to WDRB.
In court, Pyke said he wanted to live in Henryville again someday, and would like to work. Whether he can get back into the funeral business--which he said is his passion--is still a question.
Pyke said Monday he "takes full responsibility" for all charges, and hopes to provide closure to the families involved. He said he never meant to hurt anyone.
A pastor spoke on Pyke's behalf, citing his remorse and how he's changed since being in jail.
T.C Baker says, "So when he was incarcerated, it was hard for him to understand where her was and that he put himself there. But he came to terms with himself over these two and a half years...that he's been incarcerated. And he became at peace with himself and with the decision that he made."
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