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Authors: Ken Englade

A Family Business

A Family Business

Ken Englade


Diversion Books
A Division of Diversion Publishing Corp.
443 Park Avenue South, Suite 1008
New York, NY 10016

Copyright © 1992 by Ken Englade
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

For more information, email
[email protected]

First Diversion Books edition December 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62681-502-5

More from Ken Englade

Deadly Lessons

Murder in Boston

To Hatred Turned

Table of Contents

Author’s Note


Dramatis Personae

Part One: Oscar’s Ceramics



Part Two: The Family…the Business







Part Three: The Victims







Part Four: The Road to Ventura














Part Five: Accused of Murder







Part Six: Full Circle




An Abbreviated Chronology of Events


More from Ken Englade

Author’s Note

Some of the dialogue represented in this book was reconstructed while other dialogue was drawn from courtroom testimony.


For Charlie and Phyllis, God bless ’em


This book is far and away the most complicated I have ever been involved with. More than any other story I have tried to tell, the saga of the Sconces has required explanations of extremely complex legal concepts and events. When I was wading through tall stacks of transcripts and enigmatic documents, there were times I was certain that I was truly and irretrievably lost in the wilderness. If it had not been for four particular men, I don’t think I would ever have found my way home. Two of them were prosecutors at various stages of the case: Deputy District Attorneys Harvey Giss and Jim Rogan, who is now Judge Rogan. Another was Roger Diamond, who was David Sconce’s attorney during some of the more crucial phases described herein. The fourth man has asked to remain anonymous. This is too bad because his input was among the most valuable of any I received during my research. They all gave graciously of their time and expertise, frequently taking me by the hand and leading me through what amounted to a crash course in advanced criminal law. I am grateful, for without them I undoubtedly would still be wandering.

There are two others who helped immeasurably, possibly more than they realized. One was Investigator Dennis Diaz, whose aid came at a time when I had been searching fruitlessly for just the type of insight he provided. The other was Dr. Larry Podolsky, who provided invaluable assistance in helping me decipher the medical details that are such an important part of this story. I profusely thank them, as well as others who helped in less dramatic but nevertheless important ways.

I hope that I learned well from my guides, and that I have done justice to the tale.


Dramatis Personae

The family:

David Sconce
—Founder and owner of Coastal Cremation Inc. and the Coastal International Eye & Tissue Bank; the older son of Jerry and Laurieanne Sconce.
Jerry “Coach” Sconce
—David’s father and co-operator of Lamb Funeral Home, the parent organization for Coastal Cremation and the CIE&TB.
Laurieanne “Mom” Sconce
—Jerry’s wife; David’s mother; daughter of Lawrence and Lucille Lamb; former owner and operator of Lamb Funeral Home.
Lucille Lamb
—Laurieanne’s parents; David’s grandparents; owners of Lamb Funeral home until they sold the business to their daughter.
Brad Sallard
—Brother of David’s wife,
, and son of
Oscar Sallard
, who gave his name to Oscar’s Ceramics.

The victims, possible, potential, and actual:

Timothy Waters
—Owner of a Burbank cremation service, the Alpha Society, whose apparently natural death may turn out to be a murder.
Ron Hast
Stephen Nimz
—The co-owner of a Los Angeles area mortuary and his housemate.
Elie Estephan
—Former son-in-law of Frank Strunk; owner of Cremation Society of California, a business said to be coveted by David Sconce.
Frank Strunk
—Father of Steve Strunk; former father-in-law of Elie Estephan, and former owner of the Cremation Society of California.
Walter Lewis
—A deputy district attorney in Pasadena who prosecuted David Sconce on charges dealing with the operation of Coastal Cremation and the CIE&TB.

The aggressors:

Daniel Galambos
Dave Edwards
—Beefy ex-football players hired by David Sconce to assault his enemies.
Andre Augustine
—Cohort of Dan Galambos and Dave Edwards, who took part in attack on Ron Hast and Stephen Nimz.
Bob Garcia
—Former David Sconce employee allegedly approached by his boss about killing Elie Estephan.

The inmates:

David Gerhardt, Rogelio Rojas, Steve Warren
, and
Jack Dubois
—Men who testified that David Sconce either offered to hire them as murderers or sought references for a hit man.

The witnesses:

James Dame, Steve Strunk, John Hallinan, Joyji “George” Bristol, John Pollerana, Lisa Karlan
—All former employees of the Sconces.
Richard Gray
—Tim Waters’s former best friend.
Dr. Frederic Rieders
—Toxicologist who contended that Tim Waters was murdered by poisoning with oleander.
Dr. John Holloway
—Former pathologist in Ventura County who ruled Tim Waters died a natural death, a position he continued to maintain.
Dennis Diaz
—Pasadena detective who helped build the case against David Sconce in relation to activities at the crematoriums and the tissue bank.
Robert Hopkins
—An investigator from Simi Valley who worked on the Waters murder case.
Mary Lou Waters
—Tim Waters’s mother.
Scott Sorrentino
—Tim Waters’s boyhood friend; one of the last people to see Tim alive.
Dr. Jack Henion
—A Cornell University toxicologist whose sophisticated tests were unable to find traces of oleander in Tim Waters’s remains.

The legal contingent:

Elvira R. Mitchell
—The Pasadena municipal court judge who enthusiastically agreed to a $500,000 bail for David Sconce.
Victor Person
—Municipal court judge in Pasadena who conducted the preliminary hearing against David, Jerry, and Laurieanne Sconce on charges stemming from the crematorium and tissue bank operations.
Terry Smerling
—The superior court judge in Pasadena who dealt with the case against the Sconces after it left Victor Person’s court.
John Hunter
—The Ventura municipal court judge who conducted the preliminary hearing in the Tim Waters murder case.
Frederick Jones
—The Ventura County superior court judge who presided at the preliminaries for what would have been David Sconce’s trial for the murder of Tim Waters. He would have presided at the trial had the charges not been dismissed at the last moment.
Harvey Giss
—The Los Angeles County deputy district attorney scheduled to prosecute David Sconce for the murder of Tim Waters.
James Rogan
—The deputy district attorney who took over the Los Angeles County prosecution of the Sconces after Walt Lewis was forced to withdraw. He also had to withdraw later when he was appointed a judge.
Eliott al Hadeff—The
DDA who replaced Rogan as Jerry and Laurieanne’s prosecutor in Los Angeles County.
Kevin De Noce
—A young DDA in Ventura County who was named co-prosecutor, replacing Rogan, in the case alleging that David murdered Tim Waters.
Roger Diamond
—The main attorney for David Sconce; represented him at the preliminary hearing in Pasadena and at the proceedings in Ventura.
Guy O’Brien
—David Sconce’s attorney in the proceedings before Judge Terry Smerling.
Thomas Nishi
—Attorney for Jerry Sconce.
Edward A. Rucker
—Attorney for Laurieanne Sconce.


Randy Welty
—An adult bookstore owner who David said was the money man behind the Sconce tissue bank.
Mike Engwald
—Long-time friend of David and Jerry Sconce who owned a company that dealt in gold; allegedly the buyer of dental gold collected by David.
Ron Jordan
—Former David Sconce employee, and brother-in-law of another employee, Steve Strunk, found hanged in his closet. His death has been ruled a suicide.

The businesses:

Lamb Funeral Home
—A well-respected Pasadena mortuary founded by David Sconce’s great-grandfather, Charles Lamb. It was later renamed the Pasadena Funeral Home.
Pasadena Crematorium
—The Lamb-owned facility that did the cremations for the Lamb Funeral Home. Despite its name, it was located in nearby Altadena rather than in Pasadena.

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