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Press Release

Return to Nature Funeral Home Owners Charged for Defrauding Clients, Defrauding Paycheck Protection Program

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado

DENVER – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announces that Jon Hallford, age 44, and Carie Hallford, age 47, were indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly defrauding their funeral home clients, and for defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is part of The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Both Jon and Carie Hallford each face 13 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to the indictment, the Hallfords were the co-owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado. In October 2023, residents in the area reported an odor emanating from the Penrose facility.  After obtaining a search warrant, FBI investigators found 190 dead bodies inside the building in various states of decomposition.  Some of the dates on the bodies listed deaths dating back to 2019.

The indictment alleges that the Hallfords defrauded their funeral home customers by not providing a cremation or burial for the deceased as promised. 

The indictment also alleges that the Hallfords fraudulently obtained COVID-19 Relief funds on behalf of their business.    Specifically, the indictment alleges that the Hallfords provided false information to the U.S. Small Business Administration in order to obtain relief funds totaling $882,300 by misrepresenting the fact that Jon Hallford owed back child support and by claiming that their business was not engaged in criminal activity at the time they applied for COVID-19 relief funds.  The Hallfords are also accused of misapplying the relief funds for personal purposes instead of using such funds for the operation of their business. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted in March 2020 and was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans dealing with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act created the PPP, a program administered by the SBA that provided loans to small businesses to retain workers, maintain payroll, and certain other expenses consistent with PPP rules.  Additionally, the CARES Act authorized the SBA to provide EIDLs to eligible small businesses experiencing substantial financial disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The defendants made their initial appearances on Monday, April 15, 2024, before Judge Scott T. Varholak.  The charges contained in the indictment are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This federal case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General.  Several other state and local law enforcement agencies including the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Colorado Springs Police Department, the El Paso County Coroner’s Office, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fremont County Coroner’s Office have made significant contributions to this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United Staes Attorneys Tim Neff and Craig Fansler.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit

On July 11, 2023, the Attorney General selected the District of Colorado’s U.S. Attorney’s Office to head one of five national COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force Teams. The Department of Justice established the Strike Force to enhance existing efforts to combat and prevent COVID-19 related financial fraud.  The Strike Force combines law enforcement and prosecutorial resources and focuses on large-scale, multistate pandemic relief fraud perpetrated by criminal organizations and transnational actors, as well as those who committed multiple instances of pandemic relief fraud. The Strike Force uses prosecutor-led and data analyst-driven teams to identify and bring to justice those who stole pandemic relief funds. Additional information regarding the Strike Force may be found at

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at

Case # 24-CR-00113


Updated April 15, 2024