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The new man in charge of Grandview Memorial Park in Ravenna Township has pledged to take good care of the cemetery after its owners were sent to prison, including seeing that the overgrown lawn is mowed well before Memorial Day.
Stephen Colecchi, an attorney with the law firm of Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC., has been appointed receiver of the cemetery by by Judge Laurie Pittman of the Portage County Common Pleas Court. Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci requested that the cemetery be put into receivership after filing a lawsuit to dissolve the ownership of Grandview, alleging that its former operators, Ted and Arminda Martin, used funds from the cemetery to further criminal purposes. The Martins are in prison on federal tax evasion charges, and also are charged with eighteen felony and four misdemeanor counts in a joint indictment filed in the Portage County Court of Common Pleas.
The Martins also are facing criminal charges in Delaware County, Ohio, just north of Columbus, where they also own a cemetery. A similar motion was filed in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, asking to dissolve the ownership and appoint a receiver for the Martin's Fairview Memorial Cemetery, the Delaware County Gazette reported.
Colecchi said he was familiar with the case and offered to help, citing concern for the families affected.
"It's a really sad situation," he said.
Colecchi, who has been been granted the authority by the court to "do all things customary, usual and necessary to operate, maintain and care for the cemetery for the lawful purpose for which Grandview Memorial Park, Inc. was incorporated," said his first order of business will be to see that the lawn is maintained. He is working with a contractor to get that done as soon as possible.
"My initial focus is to make arrangements for the cemetery grounds to be mowed for Memorial Day and the grounds maintained throughout the summer," he said. "I am working with the prosecutor's office, the Ravenna Township trustees and others to make that happen. I am also in the process of reviewing the cemetery records and locating all assets in the name of Grandview. It would appear that there are very limited funds available."
He said he is working with local funeral homes to make arrangements to make the cemetery available for burials of those who own plots in Grandview. The Martins, he said, are no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the cemetery.
"The cemetery will continue to be open for burials," he said. "Any payments for services provided will go into the receivership account and a full accounting will be provided to the court. I will be providing additional information to the public in the next week regarding my plans for ongoing operations at the cemetery."
The Chesty Puller Young Marines plan to put flags at the graves of veterans buried at Grandview next week, as well as Maple Grove Cemetery in Ravenna and Rose Hill Memorial Park in Fairlawn. A representative of the group said the organization is reaching out to the Young Marines in Delaware County to make sure veterans graves are also marked with flags at Fairview.