Friday, September 9, 2011

Plot Owners Remain Lingering In Limbo After Cancellation Of Cemetary Foreclosure Sale; Ripoff By Now-Convicted Prior Owner Plays Role In Turmoil

In Calvert County, Maryland, the Maryland Independent reports:

  • The foreclosure auction on the lawn of the Calvert County Circuit Court for Southern Memorial Gardens was canceled [last week] and some upset plot owners could not get answers as to what will happen next.


  • I don’t know the answer to that,” the bank trustee said to several people who asked what will happen to their plots, who now owns the cemetery and if someone dies now can they be buried on their plot. The 50 or so people were varied in dress from business suits to shorts; many of the plot owners say they are in limbo and do not know where to find answers.

  • Eileen Wilson, who said she paid $47,000 for 16 plots, was upset that she could not get answers and was worried that the bank or someone who bought the cemetery would resell her plots. “There’ll be a war down here,” she said, if that happens. “The Office of Cemetery Oversight did not do their job in the first place,” said Wilson, whose husband is buried in the cemetery.


  • Peggy Bekavac of Dunkirk, whose husband is buried at the cemetery and owns a plot next to him, said that she has been so upset. “People are scared to die. A lot of people are worried,” she said. Bekavac said she bought the plots 17 years ago and wants someone to purchase the property so she can be assured that she will be buried next to her husband. "These people just want what they paid for,” she said.

  • The foreclosed cemetery owner Danny Martin, who was at the auction, blamed the OCO for the foreclosure, saying, “They forced us into foreclosure.” Martin said that he had an agreement with the bank to continue to own the cemetery, but the board would not allow him to do so. Martin said they have had a difficult time due to the economy, but have seen a 67 percent increase in revenue over the last year. If the OCO would give Martin back his license, he said that he could work out a deal with the bank.

  • Martin has also had to contend with services that were not rendered but with fees collected by past cemetery owner Larry Deffenbaugh, who was convicted of theft for a case that had more than 550 victims who were defrauded. Deffenbaugh stole about $2 million, but only had to pay the cemetery $1 million, which was court ordered restitution, he said.

  • Martin said he himself now has 35 criminal charges against him assessed by the OCO, and other employees who worked for Southern Memorial Gardens also have charges against them. “We are not authorized to do business. We can’t even cut the grass,” Martin said.

For the story, see Dunkirk cemetery auction canceled.

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