Body Snatchers

Cases of lost or switched corpses or other bizarre practives have not been unusual in Orange County. In 1995, the state shut down Ray Family San Clemente Mortuary for 45 days and issued a $45,000 civil penalty for engaging in unprofessional embalming, falsifying official documents, and illegally charging exorbitant fees.

An expert said the funeral industry has a long way to go to clean up its act.

"The dead don't speak, so these mortuaries can get away with it for years," said Scott Schutzmann, an attorney who has handled several high-profile Orange County cases against mortuaries in recent years. "Based on my knowledge, I would say that [fraud and desecration] are endemic to the industry."

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