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Phony funeral lands ex-mortician in prison

April 23, 2013|By Richard Winton

When the casket that was supposed to hold the earthly remains of “Jim Davis” was finally lowered into the ground, the only thing missing was the late Mr. Davis.

The coffin had been weighed down to simulate the approximate heft of a corpse. And Davis was not inside the box.

Federal prosecutors said the phony funeral was among the inventive tricks that Jean Crump -- a onetime Long Beach mortician -- used to loot insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On Tuesday, she was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

Crump was a skilled creator of fictional death and by the time she was arrested, authorities said she had managed to pull off some of the most elaborate life insurance scams in L.A.’s recent history, including the cremation of a woman who had actually died years earlier in Arkansas.

When two insurance companies became suspicious that Davis really was resting in peace, Crump exhumed the weighted down casket, inserted a mannequin and cut-up pieces of a cow and had it cremated, according to court papers.

Then Crump and several associates reported the cremation to the county, saying the remains had been scattered at sea. They even asked a physician to create a death certificate.

“I have never seen a fraud quite like this one before,” said Asst. U.S. Atty. Grant Gleberg before Crump was sentenced to federal prison by U.S. District Judge William D. Keller. 

In all, Crump was convicted on seven counts of mail fraud and fraud.

Crump and her alleged accomplices had sought as much as $1.2 million from three insurance companies and had netted about $315,000 before authorities unraveled the scheme.

Judge Keller on Tuesday ordered Crump to pay restitution of $315,000 and serve an addition year on supervised release after serving her prison sentence. Both the judge and prosecutors said Crump showed little remorse.

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Richard.winton@latimes.com

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