A local cemetery is facing foreclosure.
Southern Maryland Gardens will soon be on the block in a foreclosure auction, in part because of the actions of a past owner who is now in jail.
The current owners, Danny Martin and his father, purchased the cemetery in Calvert County to provide a service to their Southern Maryland community. Unfortunately, that has all come crashing down under the weight of the struggling economy.
"I'm really upset because the cemetery has been sold so many times since my son and my late husband are buried here," said Ella Johnson, a nearby resident.
The current owners say a big reason for the problems is one of the previous owners, Larry Deffenbaugh.
Deffenbaugh was convicted of fraud for bilking customers out of more than $1,000,000. Police said people paid for caskets, grave markers and headstones that were never made and do not exist.
Three years ago, Deffenbaugh received five years' probation and then reportedly tried to fake his own death in a boating accident on the Chesapeake Bay. He is now in jail for violating his probation, and will be sentenced in the fall for the charge of faking his death.
Sources close to the foreclosure process said the land will continue to be a cemetery and there is no need to worry about encroaching development.
It's unusual, but not unheard of, for a cemetery to go into foreclosure, said industry insiders. It's very rare for anyone interred at a bank-owned cemetery to be disturbed.
The auction for Southern Maryland Gardens is scheduled to take place Oct. 24.