A former funeral home apprentice has pleaded not guilty to stealing gold crowns from the teeth of corpses in the Antelope Valley.
City News Service says 39-year-old Pete Lara entered pleas Wednesday to more than two dozen felony counts, mostly burglary but also grand theft and possession of methamphetamine.
He was arrested Monday and remains jailed.
Authorities say Lara was an apprentice embalmer at Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home in Lancaster when he began taking the dental crowns last year, along with medallions from funeral urns.
Prosecutors contend that he sold the gold at pawn shops and jewelry exchanges.
He faces up to 19 years in prison if convicted.