Cemetery, Regulations

Grave robbery. . . the 21st century way

“Members of a nonprofit Queens cemetery board plundered its coffers and made off with money meant to keep the burial grounds running” according to a suit filed by the New York Attorney General. . . . is how this article from the New York Post begins.

According to the article the suit goes on to claim that several current and former board members of the Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery – which is a non-profit cemetery located in Queens, New York – acted in a non-fiduciary manner over the past several years.  The NY Post article alleges that the members of the board paid themselves exorbitant salaries and took out, what are termed as “bogus loans”, as well as committed other financial misdeeds during their terms on the cemetery board.

The suit filed on Tuesday says, “The Defendants each violated their fiduciary duties of loyalty and care by:  paying themselves millions of dollars in salaries, unauthorized retirement benefits, and directors fees without any meaningful consideration of cost or controls.”

One alleged misdeed was that the cemetery President – who was on the board for 30 years – received a $900,000 “retirement award” and then continued to work and collect a salary from the cemetery.

Criminal activity sentenced:  Here is a non-related article that deals with a sentence of 15 years for an Ohio funeral home embezzlement case which was recently settled with part of the end result that a funeral home employee will be heading to prison for a minimum of seven years.

Funeral Director Daily take:  The amount of money in the New York Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery allegations seems mind boggling to me.  The article does not say where the money comes from, but I can imagine a cemetery that has been in operation for a long time in a high priced area could conceivably have that sum of money in perpetual care accounts.  If the allegations in the NY Post are correct, I am somewhat at a loss as to the greed that is out there in our society.

I served on a non-profit cemetery board in our community for a few years.  We dealt with very little money and worked hard at making sure that there was enough money to keep the lawn mowed, fresh flowers planted, and a keep a respectful presence to the property.  Many times it was the board members who voluntarily provided some of the “elbow grease” to get the job done.









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