Cemetery plot owners say they've been swindled - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Cemetery plot owners say they've been swindled

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Hundreds of angry Birmingham residents crowded a town hall meeting. They're owners of plots   in the George Washington Carver Cemetery. The cemetery fell into disrepair and shut down.  But state leaders got their hands on the records and families realized they'd been swindled.


 The state representatives who hosted Thursday night's meeting, say they're in the information gathering stage. They're looking for as many people who have purchased plots at Carver Cemetery as they can find. They say, the owner, sold plots without keeping a state record.

People poured into Jackson Olin High School's auditorium. It was the first public meeting hosted by state representatives to find out more about the people buried in carver cemetery and who owns which lot. 

But no one expected the turnout to be this big.

"This affects a lot of us," Lenisa Coleman, who has family buried there said. "The turnout is awesome."

"We have parents out there, his wife is out there, we have sisters, nephews, cousins," Rosa Isom, who has family buried in Carver Cemetery said.

"I was shocked," Chris Isom said. "I just buried my wife this year. I've been calling about the headstone, they were telling me it was on back up but really not telling me what was going on."

Many have family members buried in there - others purchased plots that may have multiple owners.

"No grass was cut, they kept it so nice,  then all of a sudden it was like nothing," Constance Foster-Kelley, who has family buried in Carver said. "Then she went to the office and it was locked."

The concern started with over grown lots...

"It's just about your loved ones out there and the grass is all grown up and it just kind of makes you feel sad," Coleman said.

Cemetery owner, Louis Reese III shut it down.  State Representative, Rod Scott found Reese hadn't filed plot purchases with the state.

"Why in the world would you sell a cemetery plot more than once unless you have a criminal intent?" State Representative Rod Scott said.

State Representative Juandalynn Givan is asking anyone who purchased a plot to send a complaint to the state insurance office.


"Make a copy, mail it in, because that's what they will begin using as they decipher through what actually took place and what can be done if at all penalty or criminal charges that can be brought against the owner," Givan said.

The cemetery also  holds the remains of Virgil Ware - one of the young men killed after the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church.  State leaders say the next step is making sure people send their paperwork into the insurance office - that office will then decide whether to send the case to the state attorney general.

Here is the Insurance Office's contact information: 
(334) 240-7588
201 Monroe Ave. Suite 502
Montgomery, AL 36104

 

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