A former funeral home owner faces 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to one count of food stamp fraud.
Rachel Hardy-Johnson, 35, of Mansfield also faces state charges of abuse of a corpse and theft in an unrelated case involving the now-defunct Johnson Family Mortuary in Fort Worth.
In the federal case, Hardy-Johnson could also be fined $250,000 when she is sentenced in May.
Hardy-Johnson used cashier’s checks to pay $26,000 for a 2006 Hummer and $41,700 for a 2008 Mercedes-Benz in February 2011. That April, she went to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission office in Dallas to sign up for federal assistance, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
On Feb. 11, 2012, Hardy-Johnson, identified in federal court records as Rachel Hardy, bought a 2008 Range Rover with a $53,000 cashier’s check, the release said. A few days later, she again certified to the commission that she was an unemployed single mother with no income living at home with her children.
But federal investigators discovered that Johnson was married and registered as the owner of two businesses about the same time she applied for that federal assistance, the release said.
Hardy-Johnson admits that she failed to disclose material facts to the commission and that she received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to which she was not entitled, according to the release.
Johnson registered as the owner of the Johnson Family Mortuary and a tax refund and estate-planning business called Mighty Dollar Tax in Arlington, the release said.
Charges pending in state court accuse Hardy-Johnson of seven counts of abuse of a corpse and one count of theft, $1,500-$20,000.
Hardy-Johnson and her husband, Dondre Johnson, 40, were arrested in July, a month after officials with the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office recovered decaying bodies from the mortuary at 1051 S. Handley Drive.
A Fort Worth homicide detective wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit that Johnson and Hardy-Johnson treated seven corpses “in a seriously offensive manner.”
The former owners have also been charged with failing to provide funeral services for several families last year after accepting payment for performing those services. If convicted of the theft charges, the husband and wife each face a maximum of two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Each abuse-of-a-corpse charge is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a year in jail.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752