NEW YORK (WPIX) — Police on Tuesday arrested two former employees of the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office on allegations they stole credit cards from multiple bodies in the city’s custody and charged thousands in unauthorized purchases, according to officials.
Charles McFadgen, of the Bronx, and Willie Garcon, of Brooklyn, were taken into custody after two criminal complaints were unsealed Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Mark Lesko said in a press release.
“The defendants…had a solemn duty to care for the bodies of the deceased and treat their personal effects with the utmost respect,” Lesko said in a statement. “Instead, the defendants brazenly pilfered the belongings of the deceased, stole their property and enriched themselves by making unauthorized purchases.”
According to the first complaint, Garcon, 50, was employed as a forensic mortuary technician from May 2018 to July 2020, during which time his duties included transporting bodies from the location of their death to the medical examiner’s office. During this time he was also working for the Burlington County Medical Examiner in New Jersey, the complaint said.
Garcon was first arrested by New Jersey authorities in May 2020 and was found in possession of property belonging to four decedents who had died in New York City, the complaint reads.
According to the medical examiner’s records, Garcon was assigned to transport three of those bodies and was working as an autopsy technician in New York when the fourth body arrived.
The complaint said a subsequent investigation revealed he made nearly $6,500 in unauthorized purchases using the stolen credit and debit cards, including airfare from Newark to Fort Lauderdale.
McFadgen, 66, worked as a mortuary technician for the medical examiner’s office between October 2003 and July 2016, when he retired, according to the second complain.
He admitted to investigators that both during and after his time working there, he also used stolen cards, officials said.
McFadgen allegedly made more than $13,500 in unauthorized purchases using cards belonging to five decedents whose bodies were in the office’s custody.
“The alleged behavior of these two former medical examiner office employees stripped families of the dignity they expected to be afforded to their deceased family members, and it broke federal law,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney in a statement.
The two men were hit with federal charges of access device fraud and were scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon for arraignment, officials said.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
“Individuals who have experienced similar issues with theft from deceased loved ones are encouraged to make a report to DOI’s Office of Inspector General for OCME at (212) 825-5904,” stated New York Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett.