The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is suing two cemeteries – one in Ravenna – for selling but failing to provide gravestones and other memorial items to numerous customers.
The lawsuit accuses Grandview Memorial Park in Ravenna and Fairview Memorial Park in Lewis Center in Delaware County and the owners of the cemeteries, Theodore L. Martin Jr. and Arminda Martin, of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.
“When people are grieving the loss of a family member, they shouldn’t have to deal with problems like this,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a press release issued Friday. “Our goal is to help consumers who have been harmed and to enforce the state’s consumer protection laws.”
The civil lawsuit, filed Friday in Portage County Common Pleas Court, claims the cemeteries accepted money or credit card payments from customers for headstones, vaults and other items, but failed to deliver them. The customer’s losses total about $36,000, based on 26 unresolved complaints, according to the suit.
The lawsuit seeks restitution for the customers, an end to the violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act and a civil penalty of $25,000 for each violation.
Theodore Martin, 53, and Arminda Martin, 45, both of Ravenna, are also each facing 24 felony and misdemeanor charges in Portage County Common Pleas Court related to their cemetery operation. The charges include tampering with records, failure to establish a cemetery trust fund and failure to deposit sales proceeds into a cemetery trust, according to court records.
The Martins bought the cemeteries in 2008. Theodore “Ted” Martin said Friday that many of the issues date back to problems with the previous owners.
He said he and his wife are planning to file litigation of their own.
Brian Pierce, who is representing Arminda Martin, said Friday that she and her husband “entered into a bad business arrangement and have tried their best to remedy it.
“They are activity trying to work on a solution that will permit the people who prepaid to be buried in the cemetery,” Pierce said.
Pierce agreed with Ted Martin that many of the problems pre-date the Martins’ ownership.
Linda Malek, Ted Martin’s attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Both the civil and criminal cases are pending before Judge Laurie Pittman.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.