A receiver was appointed to care for Fairview Memorial Park at a hearing in Delaware County Common Pleas Court Friday afternoon.
A.C. Strip esquire, a Columbus-based attorney specializing in corporate insolvency, was appointed to care for Fairview Memorial Cemtery by Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley Friday at a hearing.
Strip was recommended by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Civil Division, Christopher Betts, who filed a civil suit earlier this month against Fairview Memorial Park LLC and its owners, Theodore and Arminda Martin, and asked Gormley to appoint someone to care for the cemetery.
During testimony at the hearing on Friday, Betts told Gormley that the Martins have a history of taking money for good or services at the cemetery but never following through with delivery. Betts then presented evidence that showed the Martins have spent millions of dollars at a casino in Pennsylvania and said the money spent at the casino had to have come from the cemetery because the couple has no other income.
The Martins were indicted by a Delaware County Grand Jury earlier this year and are charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and dozens of counts of theft.
Betts then asked Gormley to appoint a receiver for the Fairview to maintain the cemetery, which he said had fallen into disrepair until a “volunteer army” began mowing and cleaning it up.
“It’s a very critical and important matter,” Betts said.
Betts described the state of the cemetery as “a desperate situation” and recommend that Strip be appointed to care for it. Betts said he spoke to Strip prior to the hearing and reported Strip was willing to take the position.
Betts said that Strip specializes in receiverships and has handled three cemeteries in similar situations.
After hearing evidence about the Martin’s gambling habits and the state of the cemetery, Gormley ordered that Strip be appointed as a receiver. However, Strip was not available to attend the hearing Friday afternoon and will have to be sworn in next week, Betts said.
The hearing was attended by several members of the community, including those with family members buried in Fairview.
Paul O’Bryan, the Delaware resident who organized the volunteers at the cemetery, said he’s pleased with how the hearing went.
“It’s probably the best thing that could happen down there,” O’Bryan said.
O’Bryan and a group of other volunteers said after the hearing that they hope the cemetery is mowed and maintained again before Memorial Day, when many families will visit the numerous veterans buried in the cemetery.
The Martins are scheduled to stand trial on Aug. 8.
Betts said Friday that the Martins have pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion in Pennsylvania and were each sentenced to one year in prison. Betts said a judge originally ordered the sentences to be alternated so that someone could remain free to run the cemetery and Theodore’s sentence was delayed.
Arminda was ordered to immediately begin serving her sentence and is scheduled to be released in September of this year.
However, after Theodore was indicted in February he used money from the cemetery’s bank account to post bond and was arrested by federal authorities for violating the terms of his release. He was in federal prison Friday.
The Martins are also facing charges in Portage County Common Pleas Court for similar misconduct at Grandview Memorial Park, a cemetery they own in Ravenna, Ohio. Prosecutors said on Monday that the Martin’s cemetery in York, Pennsylvania is the subject of a federal investigation.
The Record-Courier in Portage County, reported Monday that a similar civil suit has been filed against the Martins and a judge has appointed a local attorney to oversee the cemetery.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.