Former Johnstown funeral director back in court over alleged mishandling of bodies
JOHNSTOWN — Brian Barnett was arraigned in Fulton County Court Tuesday afternoon on a 37-count indictment. Also in court were dozens of family members, some of whom had words for BarnetThe former director of the Barnett Funeral Home in Johnstown came before Judge Michael Smrtic.
Barnett is facing charges including concealment of a human corpse, improper burial, and grand larceny. Grand larceny is the top felony charge for allegedly stealing more than $37,000 for services he did not perf
In court through his attorney, Barnett objected to comments family members made to him as they walked in.
These are cases involving 17 people who passed away and all their families.
Barnett is accused of concealing one man’s body in the garage under dozens of garbage bags, more than two years after he was paid for services.
Authorities say other remains were not in their graves, or buried in someone else’s grave. Some remains are missing.
Police say in one case, there was a funeral with some ashes, but the body was not cremated until after the funeral.
Last year, Barnett had been scheduled for a possible plea deal, but the judge postponed that.
“At that point he was going to accept a plea and we weren’t even done with the charges,” said Johnstown Police Chief David Gilbo. “And the reason why I interjected at that point is because all the families wouldn’t have been represented and that was my biggest fear because they’re victims of crimes. What you’ve seen so far, even in the courtroom, is probably a third of the people affect by this case.”
Family members met with new District Attorney Michael Poulin after Barnett’s court appearance.
“I think a lot of them pretty much wanted to get this over with so they can move on,” said Chief Gilbo. “For us, we’re still going to keep fighting. Our next step will be probably with the NYS Assembly to see if we can get some laws changed and some action on the capitol for when a loved one’s body is– for concealment of a human corpse or anything like that, it’s actually punishable by a sentence that’s reasonable.”
Authorities say the charges could carry up to two and third to seven years behind bars. The judge continued the $50,000 bail that Barnett previously posted.