Legal Issues and Fraud and Law

Ex-owner of cemeteries gets prison time

July 8, 2010

An ex-owner of cemeteries in four states has been sentenced to between 32 months and 10 years in prison for embezzling $4.2 million from a Grand Rapids cemetery.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said Wednesday that Robert Nelms received the sentence from Kent County Circuit Judge George S. Buth.

The 41-year-old repaid the money he stole from Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens, which his Indianapolis-based company operated. He pleaded guilty in September.

Nelms also has owned cemeteries in Indiana, Iowa and Ohio. He agreed to sell 11 cemeteries to replenish prepaid funeral and burial funds.

In May, he was sentenced in Marion County to eight years in community corrections after pleading guilty to theft and fraud. Nelms was accused of raiding millions of dollars from trust accounts of Indianapolis-based Memory Gardens Management Corp.

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