York County unveils 2023 budget: Will there be a tax increase?

York County cemetery owner pleads guilty to theft in Ohio

Northern York County Regional Police say owners of Suburban Memorial Gardens on 3875 Bull Road took payment for grave markers, and several months later, never put them in. Tuesday  Feb. 9, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo
  • Arminda Martin, 47, who owns Suburban Memorial Gardens, pleaded guilty to theft in Ohio.
  • Her husband, Theodore Martin, who also owns the cemetery, faces trial on Oct. 24.
  • Arminda Martin is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 7.

The owner of a York County cemetery pleaded guilty to theft related to an Ohio cemetery she owns, according to online court records.

Arminda Martin, 47, and her husband, Theodore "Ted" Martin, 54, also own Suburban Memorial Gardens at 3875 Bull Road in Conewago Township. 

On Friday, Oct. 20, Arminda Martin pleaded guilty to 15 counts of theft in Delaware County, Ohio, where she and her husband own Fairview Memorial Park, according to the Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Federal authorities say the couple own another cemetery in Ohio, Grandview Memorial Park.

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."

Some of the theft counts she pleaded to were committed against elderly people, according to the prosecutor's office.

Arminda Martin. Photo courtesy The Delaware County Prosecutor's Office.

According to a report from the Delaware Gazette, Arminda Martin admitted to taking money for items at the cemetery but never delivered on them or put the money in a trust.

As part of Arminda Martin's plea, she waived her right to appeal and will have to testify in any future hearings involving her husband, who is her co-defendant in the case, the prosecutor's office said.

Theodore Martin's trial is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 24.

The Martins were charged in York County in 2016 with theft related to Suburban Memorial Gardens, but the local charges were withdrawn, and the Office of the Inspector General took over the case.

Ohio: Ohio officials charged the Martins earlier this year.

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.

The couple were then indicted on additional charges, replacing the original charges, in June, the prosecutor's office said. 

According to the prosecutor's office, 67 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.

Fairview Memorial Park remains under the care of a receiver, Columbus-based attorney A.C. Stripe, according to a report from the Delaware Gazette. 

Theodore Martin. Photo courtesy Delaware County, Ohio, 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, 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.

Locally: Last year, Northern York County Regional Police filed 32 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.

In May 2016, 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.

Some of the grave markers paid for by clients but never purchased by the Martins were for military veterans, Northern York County Regional Police Lt. David Lash said at the time. 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.

Aside from their tax evasion case, the Martins have not seen any additional charges in Pennsylvania since the investigation was handed to the Office of the Inspector General.

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.

By late February, many had come forward to police, 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 varied 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.

Arminda Martin is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 8 in her Ohio case.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.