A Colorado embalmer was indicted after authorities said he plundered the bodies of clients' loved ones by taking their gold teeth and fillings.
Adrian Kline, 43, of Brighton is accused of pawning more than eight ounces of gold along with jewelry taken while he worked alone at night at several mortuaries.
With gold fetching nearly $1,800 an ounce in the sluggish economy, pawn brokers say the items could be worth a lot of money.
Rod Brandenburg, owner of Grandpa's Pawn shop in Longmont, Colo., said a single crown can be worth up to $700, depending on the size of the tooth and the quality of the gold.
Brandenburg said he was not approached by Kline, but several pawn brokers gave Kline cash for his gold. Brandenburg said he has strict rules on what he will accept.
"This is sickening," he said.
Authorities were told that as part of the embalming process, the mouths of the deceased are sewn shut and the removal of any teeth would not be detected.
A grand jury indicted Kline on Feb. 23 on charges of providing false information to a pawn broker and providing false information to a secondhand dealer. He turned himself in the next day and was released on $2,500 bond.
Kline could not be reached for comment and no attorney was listed on court records.
Kline told police he didn't take the gold from the mouths of cadavers, according to the indictment.
He said he got some gold from trash at a mortuary where metal items were recovered from cremated remains. Other gold came from his stepfather, a dentist, he said.
Police found a copy of Kline's driver's license with a bag holding about 20 gold teeth at one pawn shop, The Longmont Times-Call (http://bit.ly/wmnxJz ) said in a story Tuesday. Kline visited pawn shops dozens of times over three years, the paper said.
Investigators have not determined how many victims were involved or whether authorities have been able to identify any of the people who were victimized, said .Catherine Olguin, spokesman for the Boulder County District Attorney's Office.
State officials said they regulate funeral homes and crematoriums but do not license embalmers.
A manager at EZ Pawn in Longmont that was listed in the indictment as buying gold and jewelry twice from Kline referred calls to company headquarters, which did not return phone calls.
Owners of Aspen Mortuaries, one business where Kline worked, said any dental gold left over after cremation is put into a box and recycled, with the money used to fund volunteer work. President Jeff Black did not respond to a call seeking comment.
A forensic dentist told authorities most of the gold recovered from pawn shops came from cadavers and some of the gold teeth had tool marks that appeared to have been made by a pair of pliers.
Police said they recovered 10 pieces of dental gold during a search of Kline's home.
Information from: Daily Times-Call, http://timescall.com/