WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - A former funeral home accused of swapping remains, forging death records and working without a license is speaking publicly for the first time since he was indicted by a grand jury last year.
Shaun Reid says the criminal case against him prevented him from speaking, but he's ready to defend himself now that he's pleaded guilty to two felony counts of forging a death certificate and issuing that false document. The plea deal allowed him to avoid jail time and instead serve two years of probation.
"I took a plea deal based upon the fact that a mistake was made some way, somehow, someone dropped the ball," said Reid. "I had no choice."
Reid said he was not the one who dropped the ball, and that he didn't know who did. He suggested the remains were accidentally swapped at the crematory but offered no evidence of that. The crematory is facing no charges.
FOX 5 first reported on Reid in Jan. 2018 after a D.C. man realized the cremated remains he thought belonged to his cousin were actually someone else. Maryland State Police confirmed they were investigating and eventually Reid was indicted in Prince George's County, which is where the second family who got the wrong remains lives.
According to court records, police said Reid intentionally gave the families the wrong ashes after he got behind on cremating bodies. Reid denies that.
Despite his guilty plea, he also denies that he forged the death certificate.
"I did not forge the document," said Reid.
"But you pled guilty to this charge," said FOX 5's Lindsay Watts.
"Again, I had to take the fall for my funeral home," he said.
Reid was fined $18,000 for working without a proper license in D.C., he didn't have a funeral director's license in Maryland, and in Virginia, clients we spoke to say they never met the licensed funeral director he claimed to have on staff and they only worked with Reid.
He eventually had to close his business in Dumfries because the town says he didn't have the proper permit. Reid said he did.
"This why we're bringing suit against the town of Dumfries," he said.
When asked if there was anything Reid took responsibility for he said, "Serving people who are unappreciative."
FOX 5 has been contacted by a long list of people who say Reid did wrong by them, including a Virginia man who says he never got the urn or death certificates he paid for, Virginia sisters who said their brother's body had a foul smell at the service and a D.C. woman who said she never got the urn and death certificate she paid for. Again, Reid denies any wrongdoing.
After everything, he is vowing to continue to work in the funeral business.
"Funeral service is something that's in my heart and I will never give it up," he said.