Dover-area cemetery owners charged with theft in Ohio
- Owners of Dover-area Suburban Memorial Gardens have been indicted on theft charges in Ohio.
- The charges allege Theodore and Arminda Martin took payment for services at the cemetery but did not follow through on the payments.
- Those charges are similar to ones they faced last year in York County.
- Their York County charges were dropped so the case could be investigated federally. It is still ongoing.
The husband-and-wife owners of a Dover-area cemetery have been indicted on theft charges in Ohio, according to law enforcement officials there.
Theodore "Ted" Martin, 54, and Arminda Martin, 46, both of Ravenna, Ohio, are owners of Suburban Memorial Gardens at 3875 Bull Road in Conewago Township as well as two cemeteries in Ohio — Grandview Memorial Park and Fairvew Memorial Park, according to federal authorities.
Last year, Northern York County Regional Police filed 32 separate sets of theft and related charges against each of the Martins in January and February, and the couple were arraigned on those charges in March, court records state. Those charges alleged that the two accepted money from customers for grave markers but did not complete their purchases.
But in May, police withdrew all of the theft charges because the investigation was turned over to the federal Office of the Inspector General, police said at the time.
Ohio: Late last month, Ohio officials charged the Martins with similar offenses.
The Martins were indicted in Delaware County, Ohio, which charged the two with one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and more than 40 counts of theft, according to the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office.
According to the prosecutor's office, 44 people said they had paid the couple for their services at Fairview Memorial Park in Delaware, Ohio.
"They describe purchasing items such as grave markers, grave plots and vaults, all of which were never provided after payment," Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O'Brien wrote in a Facebook post.
According to the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, the two had scammed "dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent victims who have paid for burial plots, vaults and head stones for loved ones but never received anything."
Theodore Martin was arrested on Feb. 28 without incident, and Arminda Martin remains in a West Virginia prison, the sheriff's office said. Arminda Martin soon will be transported to Delaware County, Ohio, to face the charges, according to the sheriff's office.
Tax evasion: In October, the two were sentenced to a year in federal prison for tax evasion and were ordered to pay more than $300,000 in restitution for tax evasion, according to court records.
On Jan. 27, 2016, in federal court, the two pleaded guilty to the felony of attempting to evade federal taxes, records state.
They failed to report about $786,500 they received from operating their cemeteries between 2008 and 2011, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Theft cases: The charges in the York County theft cases were withdrawn, and the investigation was turned over to the federal Office of the Inspector General in May.
On Friday, Northern Regional Lt. David Lash said that the federal investigation remains active and that charges have so far not been filed.
Some of the grave markers paid for by clients but never purchased by the Martins were for military veterans, according to Lash. Because the Office of Veterans Affairs pays for a portion of veterans' grave markers, the Office of the Inspector General became involved, police have said.
Lash said the Martins' guilty pleas and sentencing for tax evasion are separate from the Inspector General's investigation into the alleged thefts of money earmarked for grave markers.
Original allegations: In early February 2016, four people told police they'd ordered grave markers at Suburban Memorial Gardens but that after weeks of questioning the owners, never had their markers placed, according to court documents. Customers alleged the Martins cashed the checks they were given but never placed the markers.
After those people came forward, police asked members of the public to come forward if they believed they had been wronged by the cemetery.
By late February, many had come forward, alleging some of their orders had never been placed. Some of these dated back to 2005, police said.
The amount of money people alleged the Martins had taken from them ranged significantly in the documents.
Some stated the Martins had taken as little as $143, while one man told police the Martins stole nearly $8,000 from him, according to documents.
The attorney representing Theodore Martin in the Ohio case did not immediately return a call for comment.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.