Stonecutter, wife who failed to deliver tombstones fined Dundalk couple ordered to repay $93,000

November 06, 1997|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

A Dundalk stonecutter and his wife were ordered yesterday to repay $93,000 to grieving customers they bilked by accepting money for tombstones never delivered.

Maryland's attorney general ordered John and Frances Wilkinson to repay the money to more than 70 customers who contracted John Wilkinson's services and made down payments, but never received grave markers.

"This company cheated its customers at a time when they were extremely vulnerable," said Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.

"When people are trying to cope with the loss of a loved one, they shouldn't have to worry about whether the grave marker they've ordered is going to be delivered," Curran said. "By failing to provide the grave marker, Dundalk Memorials simply added to its customers' suffering."

One of the victims of the scam, Elizabeth Kozenski of Perry Hall, was unimpressed.

"Wilkinson took $1,200 of our money after my mother died," she said. "He got fined before, did it again. We'd have loved to see him go to jail."

In 1990, John Wilkinson was found guilty of similar charges and fined more than $20,000 by the state while operating from a family monument shop on Belair Road near Holy Redeemer Cemetery.

He moved his business to Dundalk, under his wife's name, and continued to sell monuments.

Curran's order follows an administrative law hearing in April when several witnesses -- backed by affidavits from more than 70 other victims -- testified against the Wilkinsons, who had an office near Sacred Heart of Mary Cemetery on German Hill Road.

In addition to owing fines for the 1990 violations, John Wilkinson owes $10,000 to quarries around the country, state officials said, and authorities this year seized the backhoe that he used in another job to dig graves.

"Wilkinson's house in Joppa is up for sale," said William D. Gruhn, an assistant attorney general who prosecuted the civil case.

At the April hearing, John Wilkinson's attorney and brother-in-law, Richard Brooks, said his clients will surrender profits from the sale of the Harford County house to satisfy debts to customers.

While imposing a heavy fine, the state did not block the Wilkinsons from continuing in the grave marker business.

But they are prohibited from accepting any down payments or deposits. All deposits must be paid directly to suppliers.

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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