OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Former Memorial Park Cemetery employees allegedly sold burial plots to grieving families illegally.
Court records show a then-Memorial Park Cemetery Location Manager overheard a conversation between an employee and an unidentified customer.
“[The Location Manager] became suspicious that [a former employee] was negotiating for the sale of cemetery property in violation of company policy,” a court petition reads.
An internal investigation into that employee’s conduct was then opened. That months-long investigation revealed nine people, including three employees were all involved in the “theft of numerous in-ground cemetery spaces through fraudulent and forged quitclaim deeds.
Now, the cemetery is suing all nine people involved.
“A substantial number of quitclaim deeds were forged and contained copied signatures and notary stamps allegedly certifying the documents. After the initial wrongful transfer from [the Memorial Park Cemetery] to one of the Defendants, additional quitclaim deeds were fraudulently created to include the purported grantor’s signature and notary stamp, while leaving the grantee of the transfer blank until a buyer could be found,” said a lawsuit filed by the cemetery.
One of the Defendants has since died, but a large number of quitclaim deeds allegedly conveyed the cemetery’s property his. The lawsuit said his name was used even after he passed away.
In addition, the fraudulent quitclaim deeds included the purported sale/transfer of opening/closing of the graves, vantage vaults, and grave markers.
As a result of the fraudulent sales, the cemetery has suffered a loss in profits in an amount of approximately $2,000-$6,000 per burial space, $2,195 per opening/closing, and $1,395 per vantage vault wrongfully sold by Defendants to third-party customers, the lawsuit claims.
The Memorial Park Cemetery has now allegedly lost $75,000.
The State Attorney General’s Office confirmed with KFOR there have been six wrongful conduct complaints filed, alleging violations of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act as a result of the Defendants’ actions.
News 4 requested copies of the complaints, but those are confidential.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit has been in contact with the cemetery and they have been cooperative, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
News 4 spoke with Dignity Memorial Market Director, Jeremy Sparks who said, “Due to litigation we are unable to comment on this matter. However, we have and will continue working with the families affected.”
The lawsuit also claims the cemetery has been honoring the fraudulent transfer of property to third-party consumers who have an immediate need of the burial space upon the death of a loved one.
Those employees accused of illegally selling plots are listed as former employees in court documents.
All nine Defendants in the case are being sued for Slander of Title, Unjust Enrichment, Tortious Interference with Business Relations, and Constructive Trust.
The cemetery is seeking $75,000 for actual and compensatory damages as well as an additional $75,000 for restitution and equitable adjustment.