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02-15-03: Mercer & Resthaven Memory Gardens
Hinders tries to dig up funds
Last known amount in trust funds was $82,000

The Daily Standard
   The final chapter of the Mercer & Resthaven Memory Gardens cemetery saga may soon be approaching.
    A Columbus bank has a day in court this month to finally disclose how much money remains in bank accounts for Mercer Memory Gardens on Mud Pike, outside Celina, and Resthaven Memory Gardens in Washington Township, Auglaize County.
    The cemeteries were linked for nearly 40 years until a Mercer County Common Pleas Court judge in July ruled Mercer Memory Gardens abandoned and ownership was turned over to Jefferson Township.
    The only remaining items still to be resolved are the transfer of remaining cash and the retrieval of an exact map of plot owners, Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Hinders said Friday.
    The ownership of the Resthaven cemetery near St. Marys remains with the non-profit corporation Mercer & Resthaven Memory Gardens Inc. On Friday, Auglaize County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Pierce contacted Hinders to discuss settling the accounts and securing the fair share for Resthaven.
    Hinders filed numerous motions in late spring 2002, forcing the non-profit corporation and the agent hired to maintain the Mercer County cemetery, Patrick Foley, to seize operating the cemetery.
    Plot owners began complaining yearly of unmowed grass and piled trash, shortly after the previous owners were jailed for embezzlement and the new non-profit corporation was set up.
    Hinders filed a subpoena Wednesday to have an officer from a Columbus Key Bank appear and declare the amount of funds in three accounts that are believed to be attached to the cemeteries.
    Court documents from a civil case involving the cemeteries that ended in 1999 show that nearly $130,000 in trust funds for operations of the cemeteries was turned over to the trustees of Mercer & Resthaven Memory Gardens Inc. in 1998.
    In a June 2000 filing with the Ohio Division of Real Estate, Foley claimed $82,346 were in endowment care trust funds. Foley, who performed all ownership and management duties for the cemeteries, has not filed since.
    A contract with Foley's company, Reliance Guild, shows the company was to be paid 40 percent of the cemeteries' income, with 60 percent going into state-mandated trust accounts, court documents show.
    In a series of articles last year, The Daily Standard discovered the corporate-status of Mercer & Resthaven Memory Gardens Inc. was discontinued in 1999 for non-renewal. Foley's corporation also expired.
    Mercer & Resthaven Memory Gardens Inc. recently was reinstated and retains Resthaven Cemetery in Auglaize County.
    Hinders said he and the Jefferson Township Trustees have gathered documents detailing plot ownership, but they are unsure if Foley has more. Hinders has been in contact with Columbus attorney Joseph Ryan on behalf of Foley.


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