IBJNews

Memory Gardens manager sought $3.2M, awarded $175,000

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The former manager of Memory Gardens Management Corp. who had sought $3.2 million from the company instead received $175,000 in a settlement approved Wednesday.

Debora Johnson claimed she was owed the money as a result of a severance agreement she had entered into with then-husband Robert Nelms before a Johnson County judge placed Memory Gardens under the control of a court-appointed receiver.

The receiver, attorney Lynn Gray in Franklin, objected to Johnson’s original claim.

“We agreed there was some money owed for expenses,” she said. “As a result, we entered into a mediated settlement.”

Indianapolis-based Memory Gardens, a cemetery and funeral home business, fell into receivership after Nelms pleaded guilty to theft and securities fraud in July.

Marion County prosecutors filed charges against the couple in January 2008, but the charges against Johnson later were dropped.

In the meantime, Johnson filed for divorce from Nelms in Marion Superior Court and also attempted to collect money through the dissolution, claiming half the assets of their businesses belonged to her.

Oddly, Nelms maintained the two were never married despite a Jamaican ceremony because a U.S. marriage certificate does not exist. The court agreed, and the case was dismissed on April 20.

“For that matter, the court has ruled that the proffered Jamaica document (bearing no signature from either party) will not be admitted into evidence that a marriage ceremony was conducted involving the parties,” Judge S.K. Reid wrote.

Johnson’s amended complaint that Nelms profited more from the businesses than her also was dismissed.
 
The couple bought Memory Gardens from Fred Meyer Jr. and his family for $27 million in December 2004. Within days, prosecutors said, the couple drained all $24 million from their newly acquired company’s trust fund, which was supposed to be used to maintain grave sites in numerous cemeteries.

Most of the money, about $13.7 million, was transferred to repay a $13.5 million loan that Nelms used as a down payment to buy the business.

Nelms’ plea agreement allowed him to avoid prison and instead serve an eight-year sentence through community corrections programs and two years of probation.

The Meyer family filed suit in early 2008, asking the court to appoint a receiver to oversee the business amid questions about the status of the trust fund.
Johnson Circuit Court Judge Mark Loyd ordered the company sold as part of a civil lawsuit transferred to his court and consolidated with the receivership proceedings.

All claims submitted against Memory Gardens, which included Johnson’s, need to be addressed before its sale to Pennsylvania-based StoneMor Properties can proceed.  

StoneMor, a publicly traded company that operates 235 cemeteries and 59 funeral homes in 25 states and Puerto Rico, has agreed to buy the embattled Memory Gardens.

Loyd earlier this month approved the sale, pending settlement of all claims. The sale could close next month, said Gray, the receiver.  

Memory Gardens’ properties include Forest Lawn Memory Gardens & Funeral Home in Greenwood and Lincoln Memory Gardens in Boone County.

As part of a court order, the buyer of Memory Gardens would have to refund at least some of the millions of dollars missing from the trust funds. The remainder could come from a judgment in the civil suit, if successful.

Richard Shevitz of the Indianapolis-based Cohen & Malad LLP law firm filed the civil suit in January 2008 on behalf of the Meyer family. Loyd rejected Shevitz’s request for class-action certification to include everyone who paid into the trust funds—a number Shevitz estimated to be “in the thousands.” Shevitz is appealing the judge’s decision.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1

ADVERTISEMENT