Crime 

Mortician alleges vendetta

David Wayne Sconce, a California mortician who in 1989 pleaded guilty to mutilating corpses, alleged last month that prosecutors in Missoula County and California violated his civil rights when extraditing him from Montana for a probation violation.

"This is a vendetta," says Roger Diamond, Sconce's Santa Monica attorney. Diamond also claims that the California prosecutors who worked with Missoula attorneys to extradite Sconce have been "out to get" his client for years.

The skirmish marks the latest in a long legal war colored with gruesome allegations that trace back to 1989, when Sconce was convicted of 21 counts related to crimes committed while overseeing his family's Pasadena business, Lamb Funeral Home. Prosecutors alleged that Sconce removed body parts, such as hearts, lungs and eyes, for sale to biological supply companies and stole gold dental fillings. As the Los Angeles Times reported, former funeral home employees testified that Sconce used pliers to remove fillings from cadavers "in a process the mortician called 'popping chops.'" In exchange for his guilty plea, Sconce received a five-year sentence.

In 1997, Sconce agreed to another guilty plea, this time admitting to conspiring to kill a competitor. For that crime, he received lifetime probation.

In 2007, Sconce moved from California to Huson. In 2012, federal prosecutors in Montana indicted him for being a felon in possession of a firearm after alleging that he stole a weapon from a neighbor. That's when prosecutors in California had him extradited for violating the terms of his lifetime probation.

In response to claims that the Missoula County Attorney's Office violated Sconce's civil rights, Assistant Chief Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks says that if Sconce had attempted to fight the extradition during the proceeding itself, he would have had ample opportunity to challenge it—but he didn't. "He waived extradition," Marks says. "And now he's sending me angry letters."

Pasadena prosecutor Thomas Krag notes further that Sconce's track record is not that of a good citizen.

"He doesn't understand what it means to obey all laws," Krag says. "He should have been put in custody many, many years ago, when this all went down in the '80s."

Sconce is jailed in San Diego serving a sentence of 25 years to life.

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