Dover cemetery owners face federal investigation

Christopher Dornblaser

The owners of Suburban Memorial Gardens, who allegedly took money from customers for grave markers and did not place them, will be facing a federal investigation, according to a news release.

Theodore Martin, 52, and Arminda Martin, 45, of Ravenna, Ohio, were arraigned on March 4 on more than two dozen charges of theft by deception and receiving stolen property, according to court documents. They have since been released from York County Prison on close to $80,000 bail.

On Friday, Northern York County Regional Police announced the local charges have been withdrawn and the investigation was turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General.

Veterans Affairs: According to Northern York County Regional Police Lt. David Lash, some of the alleged theft victims were veterans.

“My understanding is, when a veteran dies, a portion of the funeral expenses is covered by the Veterans Administration, and several of our victims are veterans,” he said.

He said because some of the money came from the Veterans Affairs office, the investigation was sent to them.

Lash said that while a portion of the alleged victims are veterans, not all of them are. Despite that, the Veterans Affairs will be handling all aspects of the investigation regardless of whether the alleged victim is a veteran or not.

Occurrences: In the beginning of February, four people told police they had ordered grave markers at Suburban Memorial Gardens, 3875 Bull Road in Dover Township, and, after weeks of questioning the owners, never had their markers placed, according to documents. They alleged the Martins cashed the checks they were given but never placed the markers.

Documents state that orders for the markers paid for by those customers through the Martins were placed in 2015.

After those alleged victims came forward, Northern York County Regional Police asked any others who believed they were wronged to come forward.

By late February, many had come forward, alleging some of their orders were never placed. Some of these dated back to as early as 2005.

The amount of money people alleged the Martins had taken from them ranged significantly in the documents.

Some stated the Martin's had taken as little as $143 and failed to put down a "date of death" on a grave marker, whereas another alleged the Martins took as much as $7,945, according to documents.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser or on Twitter at@YDDornblaser.