Felony charge against Ypsilanti Township crematorium owner dismissed by judge

Judge says prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence

A judge dismissed felony charges against a crematorium owner.

YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A judge threw out the state’s case against the owner of a crematory in Ypsilanti Township who was charged with improperly disposing of bodies.

O’Neil Swanson was arraigned on Oct. 4 in Washtenaw County on one count of improper disposal of dead bodies. Officials said he was charged as a second habitual offender.

The judge said the charge against Swanson was nearly manufactured by the state. Investigators raided the Tri-County Crematorium last summer and said remains were being badly mishandled.

That led the attorney general to bring a felony charge against Swanson, the charge that has now been dismissed because the judge said the state did not have the evidence to support the charge.

“We’re reviewing our options on this,” reads a statement from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office on Tuesday.

In 2019 Swanson pleaded guilty to misusing funeral funds and losing his mortuary license. He admits his wife applied for the license to run the Tri-County Crematorium. He said his wife works with him.

He said he reached out to LARA when bodies were discovered. He said it was an issue he inherited from the previous owner.

Swanson’s attorney, Klint Kesto, said he believes LARA is ultimately responsible for not acting when inspectors were inside the facility.

Kesto said he and Swanson are now weighing all options and that he state still has Swanson’s business shut down.

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About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.