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The owners of Grandview Memorial Park will make their first appearance in a Portage County courtroom to answer felony charges on April 25.
Accused of failing to abide by Ohio law while running their private Ravenna Township cemetery, Theodore L. "Ted" Martin Jr., 52, and Arminda K. "Myndi" Martin, 45, were booked Monday at the Portage County jail in Shalersville.
The Martins will be arraigned in Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman's courtroom at 11 a.m. April 25, according to court records. They signed personal recognizance bonds after being booked and are free until their court date.
A Portage County grand jury handed up a 24-count indictment against the couple on March 18. It charges them with various felony crimes related to the operation of the cemetery, including multiple counts of tampering with records; failure to establish a cemetery trust fund; failure to deposit sales proceeds into a cemetery trust; failure to appoint cemetery trustees; failure to file annual reports and affidavits and misdemeanor charges of failure to register a cemetery.
An investigation by the Ohio Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing's Cemetery Section and the Portage County Prosecutor's Office resulted in the charges. Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci's office was handed the case in September 2015.
The Martins purchased Grandview Memorial Park from Sheridan Rinehart in 2008. They also own Fairview Memorial Park in Delaware, Ohio, also purchased from Rinehart in 2008.
The Martins have so far failed to respond to messages seeking comment.
The couple allowed the registration for both cemeteries to lapse last year. By law, all cemeteries in Ohio where burials have been performed in the last 25 years are required to register with the state. Many also are required to take a portion of the proceeds from their gross yearly sales and place those funds in a trust, overseen by a board of trustees, within 30 days of receiving the funds.
The Martins are accused of failing to abide by those laws. The Ohio Division of Commerce is unable to investigate unregistered cemeteries in the state. The Ohio Attorney General's Office recorded nine complaints against Grandview and Fairview between July 2011 and November 2015, according to public records.
The Martins also allegedly falsified Fairview Memorial Park's bank statements, falsified or tampered with annual reports and affidavits regarding the operation of that cemetery between January 2010 and December 2013, according to their indictment.
Anyone with a complaint about a registered cemetery may file one with the Ohio Cemetery Resolution Dispute Commission using the online complaint form at www.com.ohio.gov/real. Those owning plots who feel they need advice on their legal rights involving the cemetery may call the Portage County Bar Association at 330-296-6357 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.
If the cemetery goes into default, Ravenna Township Trustees may be stuck with owning and operating the private cemetery until the situation can be resolved. If the township did take over, it would honor all pre-need contracts and commitments owed to consumers with plots at the cemetery, trustees said earlier this month.
York County, Pa., police charged the Martins with six felonies, including theft by deception and receiving stolen property, in January after the couple allegedly took customers' money and failed to order, provide or install grave markers at a third cemetery they own, Suburban Memorial Gardens in Dover, Conewago Township, Pa.
The Martins also were indicted on federal tax evasion charges after the IRS accused them of failing to pay more than $120,000 in federal taxes in 2011, federal prosecutors said.
Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier
Final arrangements may not be finalized at Grandview in Ravenna Township (April 3): http://bit.ly/1Sd93s8
Bar Association offers free help with Grandview issues (April 2): http://bit.ly/1TUqCzI
Grandview ownership worries trustees (March 30): http://bit.ly/22xQq4P
Grandview Memorial Park owners indicted on felony charges (March 23): http://bit.ly/1RXcDrC
Grandview Memorial Park owners facing felony charges in Pennsylvania (Feb. 14): bit.ly/1UJExrT
Grandview Memorial Park focus of state, local probes (Jan. 31): bit.ly/20OJZyI