Topeka, KS – A Kansas man who became famous when he assisted in an autopsy of Michael Brown in 2014 and was later convicted of performing illegal autopsies was sentenced to more jail time on Monday in connection with his fraudulent autopsy scheme.
After Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, his family hired well-respected forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden to perform an independent autopsy on the body, according to The Grio.
Shawn Parcells assisted Baden in performing the second autopsy and the two concluded that Brown was likely bent over when he was shot in the head.
Parcells did the national talk show circuit afterwards and appeared on numerous news shows discussing the case as an expert, The Grio reported.
No allegations of wrongdoing have been raised in relation to that specific autopsy report, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
But it turned out that Parcells, the owner of National Autopsy Services, was actually a big fraud and it all started to come to light a short time later.
Parcells was self-taught and had no formal training or certification in pathology, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
In order for the autopsies his company performed to be legal, a pathologist had to be involved in the examination of the body and the report.
In November of 2021, Parcells was convicted of three counts of felony theft and three misdemeanor counts of criminal desecration in Wabaunsee County, WIBW reported.
Court records showed his crimes included illegally solicited money from the county to perform autopsies and then performing at least three autopsies in 2014 and 2015 without a pathologist present.
At the end of that case, he was also facing civil litigation from clients over 1,600 biological samples that he illegally collected, WIBW reported.
The Kansas Department of Health took custody of those samples, which were mostly human tissue, and notified families that they have until Oct. 6 to claim them, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
But that wasn’t all Parcells had been up to, according to authorities.
Court records showed that said Parcells earned more than $1.1 million in Kansas between 2016 and 2019 from more than 350 clients who ordered autopsies and most of them were never performed, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt charged Parcells with conducting illegal autopsies in 2019.
In August, he was banned from doing business in the state and ordered to pay more than $700,000 in restitution and fines for the cases in Kansas, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Parcells was also ordered to pay more than $250,000 in restitution to 82 of his former clients.
He was also brought up on federal wire fraud charges, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Court records showed that in July of 2016, Parcells convinced a client to he was qualified to perform an autopsy based on false credentials and charged the client $5,000, WIBW reported.
The client received an emailed copy of the report written by Parcells that included an opinion made with “a certain degree of medical certainty as a Forensic, Neuro, and Infectious Disease Epidemiology Fellow.”
The court found that no pathologist had participated in the autopsy exam or the report, WIBW reported.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard said.
Parcells pleaded guilty to one count in May in exchange for having nine other fraud charges dropped.
On Sept. 19, he was sentenced to 69 months, or 5.75 years, in prison for the wire fraud scheme, WIBW reported.
“During their most vulnerable state, Mr. Parcells willfully defrauded individuals while they were grieving the loss of a loved one,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles Dayoub said. “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. 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,” Agent Dayoub added.