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Lynn native fights conviction in crematory trial

LYNN ? The son of a prominent Lynn doctor and former Massachusetts medical examiner convicted of signing cremation certificates without viewing the bodies wants a judge to toss out his guilty verdict and order a new trial.Dr. Putnam Breed, 68, of Hampton Falls, son of the late Lynn physician Robert Breed, was accused of taking money for signing thousands of certificates for the Bayview Crematory. A jury found him guilty last month on nine counts of fraudulent handling of official documents and four counts of theft.Sentencing is scheduled for March 23, when Breed faces 3? to seven years in prison.Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that showed Breed was paid $35 apiece to sign thousands of cremation certificates for Bayview. The crematorium handled approximately 2,000 bodies annually from funeral homes in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. It had been operating for six years without registering with or being inspected by the state.Authorities closed the facility in February 2005 after police found a 50-year-old woman’s decomposing body in a broken refrigerator, unidentified body parts, incomplete records and bodily fluids on the floor. Police seized 12 black plastic containers with remains. Seven had metal tags and files identifying them, while five did not. Investigators also discovered evidence that a fetus and a decedent had been placed in the same crematory oven.Breed was also convicted of collecting cremation certificate fees from Massachusetts even though the cremations took place in New Hampshire. The doctor previously worked as a district medical examiner in Massachusetts, but held no such license in New Hamsphire.Breed told police that former Bayview owner Derek Wallace of Salisbury, Mass., hired him to inspect bodies and issue the cremation certificates. At trial, Breed’s lawyer Philip Utter asserted his client had committed no crimes because there were no state rules regarding cremation certificates.James Fuller, a crematory employee, told investigators Bayview charged $225 for a cremation, including transportation costs, compared to $175 to $400 for other crematories, which charge extra for transporting the remains. The same employee said he often transported bodies, including those used in medical research, and that he picked up as many as 10 bodies at a time from Harvard University.On Jan. 23, Utter filed a motion asking a judge to set aside the verdicts, saying it was improper for all 13 charges to be tried together since they involved separate incidents. Utter also argued the documents law under which Breed was convicted only applies to wills, deeds and mortgages.

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