Just in time for Halloween, prosecutors announced that a former Lancaster funeral home embalmer operated as a quasi–grave robber by snatching gold crowns straight from cold bodies and pawning them.

Pete Jacob Lara, 39, was hit with more than two dozen felony counts, the L.A. County District Attorney's said this week. Prosecutors also allege he …

… stole a cremation urn box and even plucked decorative medallions from other urns at Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home in Lancaster. The damage, they say, was $1,000 worth of crowns and afterlife decor.

The “apprentice embalmer” faced more serious charges in the form of drug possession. A DA's statement sums up the case like this:

Lara is charged with one count each of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; removal or possession of dental gold from human remains; and grand theft by embezzlement. He also faces 23 counts of second-degree commercial burglary.

Credit: Lara via the LASD

Credit: Lara via the LASD

Authorities say he did his alleged crimes from June 25, 2012, until Monday, when the case unfolded.

Lara yesterday pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. He was due back in court Nov. 12. He's stuck behind bars unless he can come up with $300,000.

If convicted he faced 19 years, the DA's office says.

In the meantime, his cellmates should sleep with their mouths closed. Just in case.

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