One of the owners of Fairview Memorial Park pleaded not guilty to 58 charges Wednesday for allegedly taking money for goods and services at the cemetery she co-owns, but never following through.
Arminda Kaye Martin, 46, appeared in Delaware County Common Pleas Court where she entered a not guilty plea to one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and 57 counts of theft, ranging from first-degree misdemeanors to third-degree felonies.
Martin had previously entered a not-guilty plea to one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony, and 37 counts of theft, ranging from first-degree misdemeanors to fourth-degree felonies. However, Arminda Martin and her husband, Theodore Martin, were re-indicted on June 16 and numerous charges were added, including a third-degree felony theft charge.
During the hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Cory Goe said the theft charges stemmed from a victim who gave more than $10,500 to the Martins for items and services and got nothing in return and said the $10,500 elevates the theft charge to a third-degree felony, which in turn elevates the engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity charge to a first-degree felony.
Judge Everett Krueger said the Martins could each be sentenced to between three and 11 years in prison for the corrupt activity charge now that it is a first-degree felony.
Prosecutors have said the second indictment added 23 more victims, bringing the total number of victims to 67.
Krueger accepted Arminda Martin’s not-guilty plea and said she will keep her Aug. 8 trial date from the previous indictment. However, her attorney, Kingston E. Malley Jr, said there’s no way he can be ready in time because of the evidence for the new charges. Krueger said Malley can file a motion for a continuance.
Theodore Martin faces one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and 77 counts of theft, ranging from first-degree misdemeanors to third-degree felonies. Arraignment on those charges has not been scheduled. He is being held at the Federal Corrections Institution in Eklton, Ohio for an unrelated tax evasion charge.
Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley appointed Columbus attorney A.C. Strip, Esq., to serve as the receiver for the cemetery. Strip is responsible for reviewing the cemetery’s finances and maintaining the cemetery.
Strip filed a report on June 9 and stated that he and his team are currently reviewing the cemetery’s records and inventory, but reported there was no cash on hand to maintain the cemetery. Strip said Berlin Township Trustee Steve Flaherty has made contact with a landscaping company that has agreed to volunteer time to maintain the cemetery.
Prosecutors reported that the Martins have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars from the cemetery’s bank account at a casino in Pennsylvania.
The Martins are also facing civil litigation and criminal charges in Portage County, where they are accused of similar conduct at a cemetery they own in Ravenna, Ohio. Strip said a judge in Portage County appointed a local attorney to act as the receiver for the cemetery in Ravenna, Grandview Memorial Park. Strip said he and that attorney have been sharing records and other information relevant to their respective cemeteries.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.