David Sconce, former operator with his parents of Lamb Funeral Home in Pasadena, pleaded guilty Wednesday in an Arizona courtroom to fraudulently selling phony bus coupons.
The plea came after he surrendered Tuesday to Mojave County sheriff's deputies in Kingman, Ariz., 19 days after he disappeared in an apparent attempt to elude arrest warrants issued in two states.
Authorities in Arizona and California had issued the warrants after Sconce failed to appear in court earlier this month to answer charges in separate criminal proceedings.
Sconce, who in 1987 was accused with his parents of multiple cremations and mutilation of corpses while running a Pasadena mortuary, will be sentenced July 28 in Arizona in the bus-coupon scam. He faces the possibility of up to five years in an Arizona state prison on the felony fraud charge, said Craig Friesner, a prosecutor with Mojave County.
Sconce still faces trial in Pasadena Superior Court on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. Sconce is accused of trying to hire someone in 1986 to kill Elie Estephan, a potential buyer of a rival crematory.
"I'm in no hurry, but I'm not letting up on him," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Harvey Giss, who is prosecuting Sconce.
Sconce's guilty plea caps three months of seesawing legal moves between California and Arizona authorities that began in April after Sconce was arrested in Bullhead City, Ariz., for allegedly forging and selling about $400 worth of bus coupons. The Arizona charges are the latest chapter in the seven-year prosecution of Sconce and his parents, Laurieanne and Jerry.
All three were accused in 1987 of mishandling hundreds of bodies cremated in Altadena and at a ceramics factory in Hesperia. His parents, who were acquitted in 1992 on charges of multiple cremations and commingling of remains, are scheduled to appear in Pasadena Superior Court on Aug. 12 on remaining charges stemming from the funeral home operation.
David Sconce pleaded guilty in 1989 to 21 criminal charges and served 2 1/2 years in state prison.
Despite the remaining California criminal charge of conspiracy to commit murder, David Sconce had been free without bail on his own recognizance and living in Bullhead City, where he worked as a bus driver for 18 months, prosecutor Giss said.
But on April 11, Sconce was arrested in Arizona after the operators of Laughlin Transit, Sconce's employer, discovered the forgery of about 400 $20 and $18 bus coupons good for discounted rides.
Sconce pleaded not guilty to those charges during an arraignment April 12 and was set free on $10,000 bail, which he met by putting up a family owned cabin near Lake Mead as collateral, said Friesner in Mojave County.