30 undelivered grave markers spark debate State says stonecutter kept money

he says he's behind

March 01, 1997|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

The state attorney general's office is alleging that a Dundalk stonecutter and his wife took thousands of dollars for grave markers they never delivered.

Thirty consumers have complained that they did not receive markers they ordered from Frances and John Wilkinson, owners of Dundalk Memorials Inc., said Assistant Attorney General William Gruhn. Twenty of the complainants together lost $16,000, but the total amount lost probably would be several times more, he added.

But John Wilkinson said he had no intention of stealing money from anyone.

"I told them everybody is going to get a memorial," he said. "Nobody is going to be cheated out of a stone."

Wilkinson said it often takes months -- and sometimes more than a year -- for a marker to be carved and placed on a grave.

"I carve many of them myself," he said. "I'm just one person."

And Wilkinson, who said he charges between $300 and $1,095 for a granite marker, added: "It's not a business where you can just walk out with a product."

The unfair and deceptive trade practice charges are the second time charges have been filed against John Wilkinson for failing to deliver cemetery markers, Gruhn said. In 1992, the Consumer Protection Division won a judgment against him, for which he still owes $25,000, Gruhn said.

"If this turns out the way we think, this conduct is reprehensible, and we're going to go after it real hard," Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said.

Some of Wilkinson's customers have been waiting more than a (( year for grave markers, said Gruhn, who said they began complaining to the Attorney General's Office in January.

Consumers with complaints against Dundalk Memorials or Frances and John Wilkinson may contact the Consumer jTC Protection Division, 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, 21202 or call 528-8662.

Pub Date: 3/01/97

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