MONTROSE, Colo. — A Colorado funeral home operator accused of illegally selling body parts and giving clients fake ashes plead guilty to mail fraud in federal court this week.

U.S. authorities said Megan Hess and her mother, Shirley Koch, transferred bodies or body parts to third parties for research without families’ knowledge on dozens of occassions.

They were charged in 2020 with six counts of mail fraud and three counts of illegal transportation of hazardous materials.

The women ran the Sunset Mesa Funeral home as well as Donor Services in Montrose.

Hess faces up to 20 years after Tuesday’s plea.