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Alleged victims of theft from Suburban Memorial Gardens in Conewago Township testify to lawmakers their experience with the cemetery. Christopher Dornblaser, 717-505-5436/@YDDornblaser

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The co-owner of a Conewago Township cemetery has pleaded guilty to conspiring with his wife to defraud more than 200 customers out of nearly a half-million dollars over a six-year period.

Clad in a Dauphin County Prison jumpsuit, Theodore "Ted" Martin, 55, was led into a federal courtroom in Harrisburg on Thursday, May 30, by members of the U.S. Marshals Service.

He pleaded guilty to the federal felony of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. His wife and fellow cemetery co-owner, 48-year-old Arminda Martin, pleaded guilty to the same federal charge on May 17.

Carl Marchioli, assistant U.S. attorney, said the pair bilked at least 223 customers of Suburban Memorial Gardens cemetery out of at least $493,000 since about 2010.

The money they stole was customers' payments and prepayments for burial services, plots, vaults, caskets and grave markers, Marchioli told presiding U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III.

More: Conewago Twp. cemetery owner pleads guilty to fraud

More: Suburban Memorial Gardens: With owners imprisoned, families caring for cemetery

The Martins used much of it gambling at a number of casinos, the prosecutor said in court.

Asked by the judge whether the allegations are true, Ted Martin merely said, "Yeah."

Plea agreement: The plea agreement made by the Martins requires whatever prison sentences they receive to run concurrently with their other prison sentences. The agreement also states the Martins won't file direct appeals in their federal cases.

The Martins agreed, as part of the agreement, to pay $493,000 in restitution.

They are currently serving time in Ohio prisons for running the same scheme to steal money from customers at two Ohio cemeteries they owned. Ted Martin is serving five years; Arminda Martin is serving 4½ years.

The Martins still own Suburban Memorial Gardens, at 3875 Bull Road, but haven't taken care of the cemetery since about 2016.

Family members of those buried at the cemetery, along with other volunteers, have been helping with upkeep there since the Martins stopped.

If one of the Martins withdraws his or her guilty plea, the deal is off for the other, according to Marchioli.

The judge set a presentence conference for Sept. 26, in his chambers.

Marchioli and Ted Martin's attorney, federal public defender Lori Ulrich, declined comment after the hearing.

Background: The Martins were indicted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg 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.

At the time, Northern Regional Police said the VA became involved because some of the Martins' victims were veterans. 

It was nearly two years before federal charges were filed.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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