SIKESTON - The Sikeston Department of Public Safety is looking into the possibility of proceeding with criminal charges to address complaints concerning the care and appearance of the Memorial Park and Garden of Memories cemeteries.
During the past several weeks, numerous complaints about the cemeteries owned by Mike W. Graham and Associates were received by city officials, according to Drew Juden, DPS director.
"We're gathering all the information we can on Mike Graham and his associates that are associated with these particular cemeteries," Juden said. "Since they have a record of doing this in other states, it seems to me they have prior knowledge and intent to defraud people."
Information will be presented to the prosecuting attorney's office "to see if they'd be interested in filing charges on theft by deceit," Juden said.
Complaints have centered on failure to provide endowed care, failure to keep the cemetery in an orderly fashion and the general appearance of the cemetery, according to Juden. Also some complaints were received about the failure to deliver headstones and markers as promised and paid for by family members.
"I think it's a tragedy that somebody like Mr. Graham will come in and take advantage of people who are trying to take care of loved ones after they have left us," Juden said.
Additionally, Juden noted the Attorney General's Office's Consumer Fraud Division has asked that anyone who has a complaint concerning issues with endowed care or failure to deliver a service or proper headstones/markers that were purchased by a family member should contact the division at 1
"It is important that any and all victims contact the Consumer Fraud Division Office to receive a complaint form so when the case is resolved all victims and families can receive the items that have been promised to them or some other arrangement that will be made through the court system," said Juden.
At this month's regular City Council meeting, council members authorized the city to proceed with some maintenance and upkeep at the two local cemeteries until the cases filed against the owners are decided by the court system.