State investigates complaints about Dover-area cemetery

DOVER — A west Dover cemetery is under scrutiny again as Delaware’s Department of Justice looks into at least eight complaints filed by patrons, authorities confirmed Monday.

Plot holders at Sharon Hills Memorial Park started a Facebook page in late August to express concerns about upkeep on the grounds.

Apparently, the allegations at least are now official.

“The DOJ Consumer Protection Unit has received complaints about the cemetery and is reviewing the matter,” DOJ spokesman Carl Kanefsky said.

The DOJ noted that those with allegegations of possible state consumer protection laws can file a complaint online at attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/fraud/cpu/complaint/. Case No. 18-17004613 should be listed on the first page of the complaint form to facilitate the handling of the complaint, Mr. Kanefsky said.

When the “Sharon Hills Cemetery Friends and Support” Facebook page was publicized in August, a Sharon Hills employee who answered a media call to respond briefly defended the burial grounds’ operations before declining further comment and hanging up.

The Facebook group collected 508 followers by mid-Tuesday afternoon, founder Cheryl Young said, more than 10 times the 42 members registered on Aug. 28.

In September, Sharon Hills patron Ms. Young reached out to State Rep. W. Charles “Trey” Paradee. The legislator checked with the DOJ to confirm that complaints had been received and were under investigation. Other than to confirm the ongoing probe, the DOJ provided no other information.

On Oct. 3, Ms. Young posted a public update on Facebook that stated, in part:

“We are doing our best to get this problem solved, and trying to be patient during this process.

“Those of you who know me personally know that I’m not a patient person, so it’s a challenge for me. At the same time, we cannot let this case go by the wayside this time. The AG’s office will have to see this through this time.”

The current investigation is not related to the July 2015 Sharon Hills case that involved missing urns. That case eventually resulted in one guilty plea and charges against three others, including the cemetery’s manager. The three other defendants pleaded not guilty.

In March 2016, the Department of Justice ordered Sharon Hills to restore missing urns for two dozen customers in exchange for halting prosecution.

The roughly 23 urns reported as missing to police were eventually replaced by last summer, the DOJ said. Authorities communicated with the cemetery and plot holders to confirm the resolution, according to the DOJ.

“Any urns that were not reported to police and listed in the report and thus were not listed in the court case, or that may have gone missing or been damaged since the case, were not included in this requirement,” Mr. Kanefsky said.

According to the DOJ one supposed victim may have possibly not responded to an opportunity to schedule a replacement.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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