Deputy coroner accused of stealing thousands from dead man

Deputy coroner accused of stealing thousands from dead man »Play Video
Jeff Hart.

LONGVIEW, Wash. – When Larry Williams died of natural causes in June deputy coroner Jeff Hart went to his apartment to investigate.

Williams' neighbors say they were shocked when police came back with their own questions two months later.

"It's a despicable thing to do anyways, but someone in a position of trust, it's even worse," said one neighbor.

A probable-cause statement says Williams' daughter in Kansas told police her dad's debit card was used. The documents say Hart admitted using the card.

Blaming his "severe financial problems, (Hart) withdrew cash from various ATM machines to pay for family bills and to purchase incidental items" totaling nearly $12,000, according to the

court documents.

Hart worked at the Cowlitz County Coroner's Office as a deputy coroner. He was hired at the end of 2009 only as part time. As soon as the coroner's office found out about the allegations,

Hart was fired.

"This job takes a certain type of person to be able to do. It takes a good person," says Cowlitz County coroner Tim Davidson. "I don't know exactly what created this problem for Mr. Hart,

what his indiscretions were, but he was a good person."

Davidson says Hart also worked in the Kelso School District and as a realtor.

His old neighbor's say Hart moved out months ago. His Kelso home is now listed in foreclosure.

Hart isn't in jail, but he didn't return a phone call from KATU News.

Davidson says they've never had problems at the coroner's office before. They don't believe there are other victims and are working to keep it that way.

"It's almost like a second family down here," Davidson says. "To have one of your family members do something like this, it's little bit of a betrayal feeling."

Davidson says his office is now reviewing protocol so the community will know that it can still trust the people who are still working at the county coroner's office.