Woman who failed to pay taxes on income from suicide kits sentenced to probation, fined
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A 92-year-old retired school teacher who made at least
$42,000 from sales of kits designed to help people commit suicide and failed
to pay taxes on those earnings was sentenced Monday to five years probation and
ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
Sharlotte Hydorn, who lives near El Cajon, pleaded guilty last December
to a misdemeanor charge of failing to file a tax return, admitting that she had
failed to file federal income tax returns since 2007.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal found that Hydorn violated state
law by selling more than 1,300 suicide kits in the United States and
internationally since 2007, profiting from those sales and failing to pay taxes
on that income.
As part of her probation, Hydorn is prohibited from further sales of the
“I'm completely out of that business now,” Hydorn said outside the
The East County resident said she will focus on a new project —
Hydorn said she started looking into helping people commit suicide after
her husband died of cancer at a hospital 30 years ago.
“I wanted for people to die at home … with their families,” she said.
Defense attorney Charles Goldberg said Hydorn sold the helium hood
suicide kits to give people an “alternative,” but she never advised anyone to
take their own life.
“They bought the kits for their own piece of mind,” Goldberg said.
The attorney said Hydorn has filed tax returns and paid taxes dating
back to 2007 and is still working with the Internal Revenue Service to resolve
Hydorn told investigators that while she anticipated her suicide kits
would be used by the terminally ill, she made no effort to verify the physical
condition, age, identity or mental condition of customers.
Investigators said it was clear that Hydorn had no way of knowing if a
suicide kit purchaser was simply depressed or a minor acting without the
consent of a parent. Authorities said the defendant sold the kits to anyone who
mailed her $40.
According to court records, Hydorn concealed the true nature of her
suicide kits when filling out U.S. Customs forms required to sell goods
internationally, in which she variously described them as an “orchid
humidifier,” an “orchid kit,” a “beauty bonnet” and a “plastic rain
Documents seized from Hydorn's home stated that she preferred customers
to pay with money orders so they wouldn't leave a paper trail.