Topeka man faces 5+ years after performing autopsies using false credentials

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 5:13 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A man convicted of wire fraud in connection with conducting autopsies using false credentials faces more than five years in federal prison.

The U.S. Department of Justice said a judge sentenced Shawn Lynn Parcells, 42, of Topeka, to 69 months (5 years, nine months) in prison for engaging in a wire fraud scheme.

In May, the justice department said Parcells pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Court documents say in July 2016, Parcells, as the owner of National Autopsy Services, LLC, used false credentials to convince a client he was qualified to conduct an autopsy.

“The client paid $5,000 and received an email copy of a final report from Parcells,” the justice department said. “The report includes an opinion made within ‘a certain degree of medical certainty as a Forensic, Neuro, and Infectious Disease Epidemiology Fellow,’ and appeared authored by [Parcells]. No pathologist participated in this examination or report.”

Further, court documents say, between May 2016 and May 2019, Parcells used National Autopsy Services to obtain fees from more than 350 clients for a total of $1,166,000. In many cases, the justice department said Parcells failed to provide an authentic, complete report.

“It’s troubling whenever criminals deceptively present themselves as professionals to commit fraud on unwitting victims, but the fact that Parcells’ schemes were predicated upon exploiting the grief and bereavement of others, makes his act a particularly predatory crime,” said U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles Dayoub said Parcells willfully defrauded people as they grieved the loss of a loved one.

“He used deception as a means to prey on those looking to find answers surrounding the death of their loved ones by claiming to be a pathologist and being able to provide those answers,” Dayoub said. “Mr. Parcells fraudulently collected fees and profited on their grief for his own personal gain. Today’s sentencing sends a clear message - the FBI will hold those accountable who use deception and fraud to take advantage of others in our community.”