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Conewago Twp. cemetery owners get prison time in Ohio case

Suburban Memorial Gardens
  • Ted and Arminda Martin, owners of Suburban Memorial Gardens in Conewago Township, were sentenced to prison in an unrelated Ohio case.
  • Officials said the two scammed their customers by not providing the services customers paid for.
  • Ted Martin was sentenced to five years in prison, and his wife will spent four and a half years in prison.

The owners of Suburban Memorial Gardens in Conewago Township will spend the next few years in prison.

Theodore "Ted" Martin, 54, and Arminda Martin, 47, of Ravenna, Ohio, were sentenced to prison time for theft related to a cemetery they own in Delaware County, Ohio, according to a news release from the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office.

Theodore Martin was sentenced to five years in prison, and his wife was sentenced to 4½ years in prison, the release states. The couple must pay $183,261, according to officials.

They were sentenced Friday, Dec. 8.

According to the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, the two 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."

The Martins were charged locally in early 2016 with theft related to their Conewago Township cemetery, Suburban Memorial Gardens. The Office of the Inspector General took over the case in mid-2016, and their local charges were dismissed.

As of Friday they have not been charged in that case.

More:Owner of Conewago cemetery guilty of theft in Ohio

More:York County cemetery owner pleads guilty to theft in Ohio

Ohio: The Martins were indicted in Ohio earlier this year.

The two had pleaded guilty in October to more than a dozen counts of theft related to Fairview Memorial Park, one of two cemeteries they own in the state. 

There were nearly 70 victims in the case, and many of them were elderly, the prosecutor's office said.

"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 a report from The Delaware Gazette, the Martins must pay restitution to all the victims and not just the ones in the charges that they pleaded guilty to.

That report states that Arminda Martin's attorney said the Martins gambled money at a casino in an attempt to get out of a debt from Suburban Memorial Gardens.

The couple also face charges in Portage County, Ohio, related to another cemetery they own, Grandview Memorial Park, in Ravenna.

According to court documents, the couple used money given for services at the cemetery for personal use. 

Their trial in that case is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 11, according to court records.

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

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. Some of the alleged thefts went as far back as 2005.

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.

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

In late October, Lash said the department was still occasionally receiving calls about the cemetery. He said anyone who has previously reported their case to them should call the Office of the Inspector General to report alleged theft.

People who have not reported their allegations can call Northern York County Regional Police and they will be directed where to go from there.

The Martins were convicted in federal court for tax evasion in 2016 and were sentenced to a year in federal prison.  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.

Lash has said the department could refile the local charges if nothing comes from the Office of the Inspector General, but he said there are no plans to do so yet.

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