Prosecutor: Cemetery owner gambled away $1 million in cemetery funds

Cemetery owner Ted Martin was in court on charges related to alleged mismanagement at his cemetaries. He is being held on $30,000 bond. (WSYX/WTTE)

A prosecutor told a judge that the owner of a Delaware cemetery gambled away $1 million in cemetery funds.

The allegation was made during the arraignment for Ted Martin. Martin is charged with engaging in corrupt activity, and with dozens of counts of theft. He and his wife Myndi are accused of taking money from families who made cemetery purchases and failing to deliver.

Despite the allegations, some families are coming to Martin's defense.

When Raleigh Konkle died in 2001, his family expected he would spend eternity inside a crypt at Grandview Memorial Park in Ravenna. But it turns out the cemetery had sold the same crypt to someone else. "And whoever passed, that's who got it, and she happened to pass first," said Jennie Schiele, Konkle's daughter.

A stranger occupied their dad's crypt. So he was placed in a temporary crypt outside, and up high, while the Konkles filed a complaint with the Ohio Cemetery Commission.

"They asked us, 'How do we make this right,'" said Schiele? "And I told them, 'Give my dad his spot he paid for.' And they said 'Well we can't do that, there's somebody else there'".

Longtime office manager Julie Sporck says there were lots of problems. And when the owner sold the cemetery seven years later, she couldn't have been happier.

"Then when Ted and Myndi took over I was so grateful because I figured everything's gonna be fixed now. I don't have to worry anymore," she said.

Ted and Myndi Martin bought Grandview and Fairview Memorial Park in Delaware in 2008.

"Well, the understanding was we were getting two viable companies," said Ted Martin. He sat down with ABC 6 for an exclusive interview in December and told us how everything unraveled.

"We've inherited these two parks that are this far in debt, with people entombed in other people's crypts and nobody wanted to step in," he said.

Martin complained the cemetery commission didn't adequately monitor the previous owner, previous complaints, or the cemetery sales. He blamed the previous owners for hiding financial problems that he said left him responsible for fulfilling millions of dollars' worth of their pre-paid contracts.

"We just can't keep up. There's too many," he said.

At one point, he told us he began taking money from new customers and using it to pay for other family's merchandise. That meant those new customers didn't get what they paid for.

"And I've got a lot of families, over 600 of them, that now that they're gonna learn the truth, that we covered those expenses for them? They're gonna be happy with the fact that we covered those," Martin said.

Add the Konkles to that list. They say Ted Martin helped their family when the previous owner and the state of Ohio refused to, by absorbing the cost of moving their dad from the outside of the mausoleum to the inside. It happened nearly a decade after he died.

"So (Ted Martin) bent over backwards for us. He truly did," said Schiele. "He tried to make us happy, found us a spot that all of our brothers and sisters was happy with. And he put my dad there as his final resting place."

Ted Martin is locked up in Delaware for now. His bond is set at $30,000. He's no longer allowed to make sales at Fairview Memorial or Grandview Memorial.

Myndi Martin is serving a year-long sentence for income tax evasion. Ted is supposed to start his sentence in January.

The Martins are also charged in Portage County and are under federal investigation in Pennsylvania where they own a third cemetery.

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