A few local residents and a landscaping company spent several hours cleaning up Fairview Memorial Park Wednesday after saying it has fallen into disrepair.
The cemetery is owned by Theodore and Arminda Martin, a couple from Ravenna, Ohio, who are currently charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and theft. Prosecutors said they took money for items and services at the cemetery, but never followed through with any deliveries.
Paul O’Brian, of Delaware and Tim Foor, of Marengo, said they had family members buried at Fairview and were disturbed by the state of the cemetery so they decided to take their pushing lawn mowers and try to clean up the overgrown graveyard.
They said the Martins have not sent anyone to maintain the cemetery in months.
“There’s a lot of guys laying out here who fought for their country,” Foor said. “This is the least I could do.”
Foor said the grass and weeds are so high at the cemetery that it’s difficult to see where headstones. Because no one has been maintaining the cemetery there are several graves that have sunk or are showing signs of collapse.
“My grandfather served in World War II,” Foor said. “He doesn’t deserve this.”
Foor said he and O’Brian had been working at the cemetery for several hours Wednesday morning when a couple of trucks pulled up from Two Brothers Landscaping & Handyman Services and four men began to mow and weed the cemetery.
The owner of Two Brothers, Leo Cain, said he and his crew were on their way back from a job when they saw the men working at the cemetery and decided to lend a hand.
“We’ve got other jobs but we wanted to donate some of our time,” Cain said. Cain said he wasn’t familiar with any court cases related to the cemetery and just wanted to help out.
Foor and O’Brian thanked Cain and his crew and said they were glad to get help from professionals.
“It would’ve taken us all day,” Foor said.
O’Brian said he is concerned about the cemetery’s upkeep and said he hoped the ongoing criminal case against the Martins will result in someone caring for the cemetery.
“It’s getting ridiculous,” O’Brian said, gesturing to the knee-high grass and weeds Wednesday morning. “It really is.”
Theodore Martin was indicted on Feb. 24 and charged one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony and 51 counts of theft, 27 fourth-degree felonies, 21 fifth-degree felonies and three first-degree misdemeanors.
Arminda was also indicted on Feb. 24 and likewise charged with one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony; and 37 counts of theft, 17 fourth-degree felonies, 17 fifth-degree felonies, and three first-degree misdemeanors.
The Martins also own a cemetery in Portage County and in Pennsylvania and have been named in numerous lawsuits for similar behavior.
Theodore is set to stand trial on May 30. Arminda is currently serving a one-year prison sentence for tax evasion and her arraignment has not yet been scheduled.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.