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Leawood Man Who Ran Autopsies-For-Hire Business Indicted For Fraud

Forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells speaks during a news conference to share preliminary results of a second autopsy done on Michael Brown Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in St. Louis County, Mo. The independent autopsy shows 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times, and Parcells, who assisted former New York City chief medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden during the autopsy, said a graze wound on Brown's right arm could have occurred in several ways. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells speaks during a news conference to share preliminary results of a second autopsy done on Michael Brown Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in St. Louis County, Mo. The independent autopsy shows 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times, and Parcells, who assisted former New York City chief medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden during the autopsy, said a graze wound on Brown's right arm could have occurred in several ways. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

A Leawood man who held himself out as a pathologist but has no medical degree was indicted Wednesday on 10 counts of federal wire fraud.

The indictment accuses Shawn Lynn Parcells, 41, of misleading clients into believing they would receive autopsy reports prepared by a pathologist when no pathologist was involved.

Parcells, who was accused earlier this month by the Kansas Attorney General’s office of duping at least 82 consumers, worked as a pathologist’s assistant in the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office from 1996 to 2003, according to the indictment. He did not have certification as a pathologist’s assistant.

Parcells gained notoriety in 2014 when he made numerous appearances on cable news as a supposed expert in the investigation of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and maximum fines of $250,000 on each of the wire fraud charges. The government is also seeking to recover more than $1 million in fees that at least 375 clients paid him over a three-year period from 2016 through 2019.

Through his business, National Autopsy Services in Topeka, Kansas, Parcells charged clients $3,000 up front plus expenses for pathological studies to determine the cause of death of clients’ next of kin, according to the indictment.

Parcells allegedly convinced prospective clients through his website that National Autopsy Services had office locations throughout the United States and some international locations, “giving the impression that NAS was a large business operation when in fact the defendant operated only one morgue facility and a ‘Corporate Office’ in Topeka,” the indictment states.

Court records show Parcells is represented by attorney Eric Kjorlie in Topeka. Kjorlie did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Parcells attended Kansas State University. In 2014, he told the Washington Post that he learned how to do autopsies from “on-the-job-training” watching pathologists and assisting them.

A CNN investigation in 2013 revealed that he did not have a medical degree and had exaggerated other credentials.

He continued to call himself a “professor” and advertise “pathophysiology” and “forensic” services as recently as this year, according to a restraining order filed by the Kansas Attorney General’s office.

Parcells is also awaiting trial in Wabaunsee County on three felony counts of theft and three misdemeanor counts of criminal desecration.

In addition, he faces a civil suit by the Kansas Attorney General alleging he had a contract in Wabaunsee County to conduct coroner-ordered autopsies but failed to complete them in accordance with Kansas law.

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.