The receiver currently caring for Fairview Memorial Cemetery filed a report Monday and said the cemetery’s financial situation is improving.
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 filed his first report on June 9 and said that he and his team would be reviewing the cemetery’s records because there was virtually no cash on hand to operate or maintain the cemetery.
The owners of the cemetery, Theodore and Arminda Martin, are currently facing engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and dozens of 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.
Strip said in his first report that he had reached out to Stephen Colecchi, an attorney in Portage County who has been appointed as a receiver for Grandview Memorial Park, a cemetery also owned by the Martins, and said that he and Colecchi would be sharing records from the cemetery and try to sort out the cemetery’s financial situation.
Strip filed a second report on July 17 and said he and his team have been able get the cemetery back on track financially.
“Your receiver is pleased to report that we have now brought order out of chaos and have made significant progress in bringing the cemetery to an orderly business arrangement,” Strip said in his report.
Strip said he and his team have been facilitated several burials without issue.
“We have established a good relationship with the local funeral homes in the Delaware Area and as a result, burials are taking place,” Strip said. “We are now averaging one internment every week to ten days and they are being conducted without issues or problem.”
Strip said each burial brings a net profit to the cemetery of between $600 and $1,000 and said that money is being deposited into a trust account.
Court records indicate that the trust account contained $3,650 as of July 13.
Strip added that he is looking into selling the cemetery.
“[I believe] that the most expeditious and sensible plan for the cemetery is to sell the real estate that is the subject of this case,” Strip said in his report. “The receiver is exploring that possibility. Investigation at this time is strictly preliminary to determine what options are available. At the present time, the best option appears to be the sale of the remaining plots as well as the sale of the adjacent land.”
Strip said he has been working with a company that specializes in the brokerage of private cemeteries and is considering using their services.
The Martins were indicted on Feb. 10 and were indicted again on June 16 and are currently scheduled to stand trial on Oct. 10.
Arminda Martin, 46, appeared in Delaware County Common Pleas Court on June 28 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.
Theodore Martin is charged with 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.
Prosecutors have said the charges cover crimes against 67 victims.
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. Prosecutors said on in June 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.