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The new owner of Suburban Memorial Gardens, the troubled cemetery in Conewago Township, said he wishes to help those defrauded by its previous owners.

Richard L. Miller II, of York City, purchased the property at 3875 Bull Road in May for $500.

The previous owners, Theodore and Arminda Martin, defrauded more than 200 customers out of nearly $500,000. They had owned the property since 2003.

On Friday, Aug. 16, Miller released a statement on the Friends of Suburban Memorial Gardens Facebook group introducing himself as the new owner.

In it, he said he is an active member of the York County community who purchased the cemetery with the intention of being an asset to those affected by the previous owners.

"I did not want to be a part of the problem, but an active participant in the resolution of this terrible situation," his statement reads in part.

Miller has three goals for the property, which are to be transparent with the family members, to reestablish the cemetery as a reputable place of business and to maintain and improve the grounds, he said.

Miller said he's been working since May to grasp the complexity of the issues related to the cemetery.

The York Dispatch was unable to reach Miller when the news of its new ownership was initially reported Thursday, Aug. 15.

More: Suburban Memorial Gardens property under new ownership

More: Conewago Twp. cemetery owner pleads guilty to fraud

Reached Friday morning, Miller declined to comment beyond the statement but said he would be releasing additional information in the future.

Property records state the York County Tax Claim Bureau sold the property to Miller as part of a repository sale on May 9. Properties sold in a repository sale are ones that are at least two years behind on property taxes, according to York County's website.

Anyone with concerns related to the cemetery can contact Miller at 717-543-0270 or through email at suburbanmemorialgardens@outlook.com.

Background: Theodore Martin, 55, and Arminda Martin, 48, pleaded guilty to ripping off at least 223 Suburban Memorial Gardens customers out of at least $493,000 since about 2010.

The two accepted payment from the customers for burial services, plots, vaults, caskets and grave markers but never fulfilled the purchases.

The two were indicted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in April 2018. Initially they were charged locally by Northern York County Regional Police, but those charges were withdrawn once the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of the Inspector General took over the case.

The Martins pleaded guilty in May. They have not yet been sentenced.

At the time, Northern York County Regional Police said the VA became involved because some of the alleged victims were veterans. 

It was nearly two years before federal charges were filed.

At the time of the couple's Pennsylvania indictment, Arminda Martin was serving 4½ years in prison and Theodore Martin was serving five years in prison.

Their prison sentences were for thefts related to two other cemeteries they owned in Ohio, according to officials.

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

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