Former cemetery owner pleads guilty to theft from customers in Delaware County

DELAWARE COUNTY, OH (WCMH) – A couple accused of cheating grieving families out of thousands of dollars are back in court.

On Monday, Theodore Martin, the former owner of Fairview Memorial Park, changed his not guilty plea to guilty on 14 felony counts of theft from elderly people. His wife, Arminda Martin, also changed her plea to guilty last week.

Prosecuting attorney Kyle Rohrer said both Theodore and Arminda face a maximum of over 20 years in prison.

“The agreement, number one it ensures that everybody gets held on the hook for restitution, so they’ll be ordered to pay everyone back to the extent they realistically can do that, but also this plea allows them to get sufficient punishment for what they did,” he said.

Outside of the courtroom, receivership attorney A.C. Strip said the cemetery is active again and doing burials about every 10 days.

“My job was to bring some level of order out of what I call chaos,” said Strip.

He said the list of victims has grown to about 70 with claims reaching nearly $280,000, including $146,000 owed to the IRS. Strip said new victims are still calling him to this day.

“Some of it is really heart wrenching from the standpoint that they’ve prepaid a funeral and they’ve already paid for the vault and now a loved one dies and the vault isn’t there and they’ve got to pay for it a second time,” he said.

Both Theodore and Arminda Martin’s sentencing hearings are scheduled for December 8th.

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