Conewago Twp. cemetery owners indicted on federal charges
The husband-and-wife owners of a Conewago Township cemetery were indicted on federal mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud charges, according to officials.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release Friday, April 13, that Theodore "Ted" Martin, 54, and his wife, Arminda Martin, 47, of Ravenna, Ohio, had been indicted by a grand jury for mail fraud Thursday, April 12.
Between 2003 and 2016, the two owned Suburban Memorial Gardens, 3875 Bull Road, and they collected money for burial services, plots, vaults, caskets and grave markers between 2010 and 2016, according to the release.
Officials say they collected about $500,000 from at least 200 customers and embezzled the money to use for their own personal gain, including gambling.
In 2016, Northern York County Regional Police filed multiple charges against the couple, but the charges were dropped because the Office of the Inspector General took over the case.
History: The Martins' indictment alleges there are multiple accounts of customers sending payments to them for thousands of dollars in cemetery services but never being provided the services they paid for.
One of the accounts alleged in the indictment includes two people providing the couple with $10,000 that was meant for cemetery services but was not used.
In 2016, Northern York County Regional Police filed 32 sets of theft and related charges against each of the Martins in January and February, and they 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.
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.
There were no updates on their investigation until Friday, almost two years later, when the U.S. Attorney's Office announced the indictments.
Ohio: The couple, who owned other cemeteries in Ohio, were sentenced to serve years in prison for theft related to those cemeteries.
In early February, the two pleaded guilty to theft charges in Portage County, Ohio, related to another cemetery they own, Grandview Memorial Park, in Ravenna, according to Ohio court records.
Theodore Martin was sentenced to five years in prison, and Arminda Martin was sentenced to 4½ years in prison. The two were ordered to pay $140,000 in restitution, court records indicate.
Those sentences are to be served concurrently with their other sentences, related to theft at Fairview Memorial Park, a cemetery they owned in Delaware County, Ohio, according to records.
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."
According to the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office, 67 people said they had paid the couple for their services at the cemetery.
"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.
Tax evasion: In October 2016, 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.
The Martins' tax evasion case was unrelated to allegations they took cash from dozens of customers for grave markers that police say the Martins never bought.
Arminda Martin was released from federal prison in September, and Theodore Martin was released from federal prison last month, according to federal court records.
The two do not have attorneys listed for their Pennsylvania case.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.