The receiver appointed to care for Fairview Memorial Park has filed his first report about the state of the cemetery.
A.C. Strip, esq., a Columbus-based attorney specializing in corporate insolvency, was appointed to care for Fairview Memorial Cemetery by Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley at a hearing on May 23.
Strip said he is working on an inventory of items at the cemetery, but said he has virtually zero cash on hand to take care of the cemetery. Strip then praised the group of local volunteers who had been taking care of the cemetery and said they were responsible for cleaning up the cemetery for Memorial Day.
The owners of the cemetery, Theodore and Arminda Martin, are currently facing engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and theft charges in Delaware County Common Pleas Court for allegedly selling cemetery plots and other items to Delaware County individuals, but never following through with delivery and instead spending the money at a casino in Pennsylvania.
The Martins were indicted on Feb. 10 and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Civil Division, Christopher Betts, reported last month that the cemetery had fallen into disrepair and asked Gormley to appoint Strip to manage the cemetery and settle the cemetery’s affairs so it can be sold.
On June 9, Strip filed a report with Gormley’s office and stated that within the first few days of receiving care of the cemetery, Strip had received a “substantial” number of calls from people who had purchased services or products from the Martins and learned that many of those promises had not been kept.
Strip also acknowledged the cooperation of Berlin Township Trustee Steve Flaherty, who made contact with a landscaping company that has agreed to volunteer their time to maintain the cemetery.
The report says Strip and his staff have begun reviewing cemetery records to determine which plots are in use, what plots have been sold, and determining what items have been sold but not delivered.
Strip reported he has assisted in two funeral services at the cemetery with no issues.
Strip said it is too soon to determine what should happen to the cemetery once the case is concluded.
“It is too early to determine the best outcome in this matter and whether or not the cemetery and adjacent land is best salable to a third party or whether other alternatives will need to be considered such as transfer of the facility to the control of the township,” Strip wrote in the report.
The Martins are currently in prison for a federal tax evasion case and will stand trial for the engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and theft charges on Aug. 8.
The Martins also face 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 Martins’ cemetery in York, Pennsylvania, is the subject of a federal investigation.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG