JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Brian Barnett, the previous Johnston funeral home who was director accused of mishandling remains received a two- to seven-year prison sentence on Monday. He originally pleaded guilty in March.
Back in January, the former owner and director of Ehle-Barnett Funeral Home pleaded not guilty to 37 charges. Ultimately, he pleaded guilty to six charges in March: grand larceny, concealment of a human corpse, improper burial, scheme to defraud, and operating a funeral firm without a funeral firm to be registered.
The families—whose deceased loved ones were mistreated by Barnett—spoke directly about their pain in court. “Brian Barnett stole the peaceful passing of my wonderful 86-year-old mother from me,” said one. “I am still horrified that he could treat my mother and myself like this.”
Others described the betrayal they felt when Barnett’s actions came to light. “When we paid our respects to deceased friends at Brian’s funeral home, my brother was only feet away, in that garage, under numerous bags of garbage, his body decomposing,” said another.
Barnett apologized to the families in court. He said he has a past history of addiction and can no longer understand what caused his actions. “I still struggle to remember many things from the last six years. Being told, ‘Do you remember when this or that happened?” and having no recollection whatsoever is one of the scariest and most humiliating things one can go through,” Barnett said. “It’s like a fever dream or fever nightmare.”
Police said they found the partially decomposed remains of people whose cremations had been ordered and paid for. Those bodies were discovered in a garage behind the funeral home and even inside Barnett’s own home.
Barnett was ordered to pay restitution to the people impacted by his actions. He was taken out of court in handcuffs and remanded to the custody of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.