Cemetery owners face criminal charges — theft of customers’ money

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Theodore “Ted” Martin Jr., 52.Photo source: Record-Courier, Ohio.

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Arminda “Mindi” Martin, 42.Photo source: Record-Courier, Ohio.

A couple that owned a cemetery in Delaware, Ohio has been charged with dozens of counts of theft from customers, allegedly for taking money for grave markers and other services that were never provided.

Ted Martin and Myndi Martin were charged in a 54-count indictment last week, accused of taking money from at least 44 families and never delivering on their promises.

They owners of the financially troubled cemetery were previously investigated by tax authorities for failure to pay more than $120,000 in federal taxes.

According to ABC6 TV news, which began a year-long investigation after a complaint from an unhappy customer, the Martins pled guilty last year to income tax evasion for hiding income from the three cemeteries they owned.

“Myndi is currently serving her sentence. Ted is supposed to start his in August. They also face felony charges in Portage County and in York County, Pennsylvania,” the TV station reported last Friday.

The Martins owned the Fairview Memorial Park in Delaware, Ohio, Grandview Memorial Park in Ravenna, Ohio, and Suburban Memorial Gardens in Dover, Pennyslvania.

Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien told the ABC6 that the Martins victimized at least 44 families who pre-paid for grave markers, grave spaces and vaults which they never received.

“I can’t imagine anything worse than when a loved one dies, the loved one or those around them have taken the time to prepare for something like this and realize that you have to go through it all again and you have to come up with the money and you have to go through the picking out of all the casket and the grave marker and all of that again,” O’Brien told the TV station. “It’s just heinous.”

ABC6 reported that “during an exclusive interview earlier this month, Ted Martin blamed his troubles on the previous owner, whom Martin said had hid financial problems.” To take care of families, Martin admitted to “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” it reported.

The TV station began its investigation of the cemetery owners after a complaint from the family of Tom Murfield, who died two years ago. The Murfields had pre-paid for a permanent grave memorial decades ago but it was never delivered.

According to the Record-Courier newspaper in Ohio, a grand jury last year handed up a 24-count indictment against the couple in relation to  Grandview Memorial Park cemetery in Ravenna, Ohio.

The couple were charged in relation to that cemetery with “crimes related to the operation of the cemetery, including multiple counts of tampering with records; failure to establish a cemetery trust fund; failure to deposit sales proceeds into a cemetery trust; failure to appoint cemetery trustees; failure to file annual reports and affidavits and misdemeanor charges of failure to register a cemetery,” the Record-Courier reported.

The allegations against the Martins should remind customers to know where documents are located for pre-paid funeral services before a loved one dies so you can carry out their wishes without going through further grief and stress.

The funeral industry has billions of dollars worth of pre-paid funeral services, which are required by law to be kept in trust until the customer dies.

Also be aware of what services have been pre-paid for. Some funeral homes will try to “upsell” grieving customers into upgrading caskets and other services not originally contemplated.

U.S. funeral services consumers should go to the Funeral Consumers Alliance for more information.

Pre-paid funeral services are called “pre-need” services in British Columbia and are regulated under the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act. The industry is also regulated under the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act.

Those laws are administered by staff working in the B.C. Consumer Protection Branch, which has a website informing cemetery and funeral service consumers of their rights: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/cemetery-funeralservice-portal

The Consumer Protection Branch also has the power to impose fines against funeral service providers for violating regulations in B.C..

The branch recently imposed a $1,000 fine against a Chilliwack funeral service provider, McLean’s Funeral Services & Crematorium, and a compliance order that they abide by the law after finding McLean’s “provided funeral services without the written authorization from the person who, under section 5 of CIFSA [control of disposition of human remains or cremated remains] has the right to control the disposition of the human remains, contrary to section 8(1) of the CIFSA.”

That decision is online here.

Fischer’s Funeral Services & Crematorium Ltd., located in Salmon Arm, BC., was also recently fined $800 for violating consumer protection laws, and Arbor Memorial Inc. (doing business as Richmond Funeral Home Cremation & Reception Centre) was fined $500 for violating consumer protection laws.

Also, Squamish Funeral Chapel & Crematorium was recently fined $100 for violating consumer protection laws involving a pre-need contract and another $100 fine for “failing to include a space for the written acknowledgement by the consumer that the consumer had received the information required by section 35 to be disclosed, contrary to section 36 (1)(d) of the BPCP Act.”

This site is dedicated to the memory of our mother, Holly Haliburton, who died four years ago this month. We established this website after having a bad experience with a North Vancouver funeral home. You can read more here about what happened

 

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