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Missouri coroner accused of stealing from a dead person, misstating causes of death

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed criminal charges Thursday accusing a county coroner of stealing cash from a dead person and misstating the causes of death for several people, and a judge has at least temporarily removed the coroner from office pending further review.

The criminal charges name Cape Girardeau County Coroner Wavis Jordan. He faces three felony counts of providing false information to vital records and one misdemeanor count of stealing. Bailey also had asked the judge to remove Jordan from office.

“My heart goes out to the victims in this case, whose lives have been upended," Bailey said in a statement.

Jordan, reached by phone at his office, declined an interview request. His next court hearing is March 8.

Jordan, a Republican, was elected coroner in the southeastern Missouri county in 2020. He could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

A court filing from Bailey said that a man died in April at an apartment in Cape Girardeau. Police photographed his wallet with cash in it. Later, Bailey wrote, Jordan confirmed he had possession of the wallet, but the money was gone. Jordan denied to police that he took the money.

The filing also cited several instances where deaths appeared to be either from suicide or a drug overdose, but Jordan listed the cause of death in each case as “natural.”