Kansas Man Sentenced for Performing Over 350 Illegal Autopsies, Scamming Clients for $1.1 Million

He was paid $5,000 for an autopsy report.

A Kansas man accused of performing more than 350 illegal autopsies and bilking clients out of more than $1.1 million was sentenced in federal court this week, after pleading guilty to a count of wire fraud, officials said. The man posed as a pathologist, despite not being licensed and having no formal training. How is this possible? Read on.

350 Cases, $1.1 Million in Fraud, Officials Allege


CNN reported that Shawn Lynn Parcells, 42, of Topeka, was sentenced to five years and nine months after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud connected to performing an illegal autopsy. The U.S. Department of Justice said Parcell used his business National Autopsy Services LLC to "obtain fees from more than 350 clients for a total amount of $1,166,000," the DOJ said Monday. "In many cases, the defendant failed to provide an authentic completed report."

Nine Other Charges Dropped


In May, Parcells pleaded guilty to the count of wire fraud. As part of a plea deal, nine other fraud charges were dropped, CBS News reported. In that case, he used false credentials to convince a client he was qualified to conduct an autopsy, the DOJ said. Parcells was paid $5,000 for an autopsy report he emailed to a client, but no pathologist was involved in preparing the report, which is illegal.

Instant Fame, Then a CNN Exposé


In summer 2014, Parcells gained notoriety when he assisted in an autopsy in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri. He claimed to be a pathology expert, appeared on TV regularly, and said he testified in court dozens of times, the Washington Post reported. In fact, Parcells has no formal education in pathology, which CNN uncovered in an investigation it aired in November that year. He claimed to be an adjunct professor at Washburn University, which the school denied.

"If They Want to Think I'm a Physician, More Power to Them"


In the CNN report, Parcells said he learned how to do autopsies from "on-the-job training," observing and assisting pathologists at morgues. Officials interviewed by CNN said that Parcells had misrepresented himself as a doctor. "If they want to think I'm a doctor, that's their issue," Parcells told CNN. "People assume stuff all the time. And they may never ask. It's bad that they're assuming and that they never asked. If they want to think I'm a physician, then more power to them."

In Another Case, $250,000 in Restitution Ordered


In another case in 2019, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt also charged Parcells with conducting illegal autopsies. The AG alleged that Parcells contracted with Wabaunsee County and didn't complete them, including having a licensed pathologist present. Last month, a Kansas county district judge in August banned Parcells permanently from doing business in the state and ordered him to pay more than $250,000 in restitution to 82 clients. "He is required to comply with all Kansas statutes that regulate any profession, and is prohibited from using any titles or initials that include professions in the healing arts or any other profession for which he is not educated, certified or qualified," said a release from the Kansas Attorney General's office.

Filed Under
 •  •