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Police probe Kittanning Cemetery scam

State police are investigating a burial plot scam going back three years in which Kittanning residents were swindled out of cash from a man selling plot and burial arrangements for the Kittanning Cemetery.

The victims reported that in 2011, they purchased Kittanning Cemetery prearrangements from a 46-year-old white male on “deals the cemetery was offering at the time,” according to Trooper Terry Geibel.

“People had given him money for goods or services, and he had pocketed the cash,” said Kimberly Vorpe, secretary treasurer of the cemetery.

The name of the man involved in the scam has not been released by police, but Vorpe said he is a former cemetery caretaker who worked at the cemetery along Troy Hill Road until Oct. 31 of this year.

He allegedly charged one individual $500 for a plot and $1,600 to a couple for opening and closing services, which involves digging and filling in a plot during the burial process, Vorpe said.

But instead of recording the transactions, the former caretaker pocketed the money, she said.

“It’s a dirty shame. This cemetery has been in existence since 1853. We don’t take cash, and any checks would be written out to the Kittanning Cemetery,” Vorpe said. “The person would then be supplied with a legal deed.”

The victims, who were not identified by police, received a handwritten receipt from the suspect after paying a sum of cash. They contacted cemetery representatives when they failed to receive a deed or official receipts and were told there was no record of their purchase.

Police believe there may be more victims in the Kittanning area who made cash purchases from the suspect.

“We want to know if there is anybody else out there who was taken in by him. We want to make it right,” Vorpe said. “If people have a receipt, they should dig it up and bring it forward.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or [email protected].


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