Lot owners say they’re unhappy with Mount Olivet Cemetery’s board of directors after it refused to answer questions following the News4 I-Team’s investigation into the cemetery’s finances.
When you buy a gravesite at the cemetery in Frederick, Maryland, you become a lot owner, and almost two dozen of them showed up demanding answers at the cemetery’s first board meeting since a News4 I-Team investigation raised questions about the cemetery’s finances.
“The key issue is to have all records opened up,” Carl Thomas, who buried his wife at Mount Olivet in December, told the I-Team during the meeting. “To see where money has been spent for non-cemetery use, basically what you reported on."
Another lot owner, and former board member, Joe Shelton told the I-Team most of his family was buried at the cemetery. “I'm very dedicated to this cemetery, growing up here in Frederick,” he said. “If it's still mismanaged and a lot of illegal things continue to go on, they're going to bankrupt this cemetery.”
Media were not allowed inside the chapel used for the meeting.
But just before he went inside, Shelton told the I-Team he already filed a criminal complaint with the Frederick City Police Department and Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith after watching how the I-Team pieced together receipts showing questionable spending by the cemetery’s Assistant Superintendent Rick Reeder and his stepfather, Superintendent Ron Pearcey.
The Frederick City Police Department and the state's attorney both confirmed to the I-Team they launched a formal investigation.
Pearcey and Reeder declined to comment as they left the meeting.
“Unfortunately those who listen to one side of this story may have a preconceived opinion,” their lawyer, Dan Loftus, who also represents Mount Olivet’s board of directors, later told the I-Team.
“Acknowledging, of course, that we've reached out multiple times to try and get that other side of the story from everyone involved, but we've been told they're not going to make a comment,” I-Team reporter Tisha Thompson responded.
“Well, I still can't make a comment because, you appreciate this, Tisha, I can't talk about something that is a personnel issue,” Loftus said.
The board could not answer some of the questions brought up by lot owners during the meeting, citing the ongoing investigation, Loftus said. He previously told the I-Team the board “took prompt and appropriate action” when it investigated the two men but “does not wish to discuss its actions publicly.”
“We'll restore the trust, there're no questions about it," Board member Tim Horman then said.
But several lot owners, including Thomas, say the board didn't answer any of their questions during the meeting.
“I'm disgusted, I'm annoyed, I'm mad,” Thomas said. “I'm at the point now where I will be contacting the State's Attorney’s Office. I tried to do this on their terms. They don't want to do it on their terms, so I'm going to deal with it on mine."
Reported by Tisha Thompson, produced by Rick Yarborough, shot by Jeff Piper and Steve Jones, and edited by Jeff Piper.