State to Probe 13 Cemeteries That Failed to File Financial Data


State officials plan to investigate at least 13 California cemeteries that failed to file required financial reports for 1993 and 1994.

The lack of required reports is considered a warning signal by Cemetery Board officials who earlier this summer seized two Los Angeles County cemeteries, alleging that among other violations, graves at Paradise Memorial Park in Santa Fe Springs had been dug and resold multiple times and that owners of Lincoln Memorial Park in Carson had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from their endowment fund.

Both of those cemeteries had failed to file financial statements for 1994, cemetery investigators said Wednesday.


The financial statements show the status of the required endowment care funds, the interest from which is supposed to maintain a cemetery once it is sold out. The funds total about $400 million statewide.

While emphasizing that the cemeteries on the list--five of which are in Southern California--are accused of nothing more than failing to file the reports, officials said Wednesday that evidence is mounting of violations at cemeteries across the state.

“The problems with respect to Lincoln and Paradise may be mirrored elsewhere,” said Ray Saatjian, a deputy director with the state Department of Consumer Affairs. “The department is concerned there could be widespread consumer abuse.”

Announced Wednesday by Saatjian, state Assemblywoman Jackie Speier and Raymond Giunta, executive director of the state Cemetery Board, the list of 13 cemeteries includes: Woodlawn Memorial Park in Compton; Shalom Memorial Park in San Fernando; Abbey Funeral Home in Anaheim; Eternal Life Properties in Palmdale, and Magnolia Memorial Park in Garden Grove.

The owner of Magnolia, Jeremiah de Michaelis, denied any wrongdoing and accused state officials of being overzealous in their recent efforts to crack down on the industry.

De Michaelis said he bought the park in August, 1994, and didn’t realize he had to file the 1994 report, which was due this June.


“I thought I didn’t have to do it because it wasn’t a full year,” he said. “The Cemetery Board knows exactly where my money is.”

Indeed, at first state officials announced a list of 15 cemeteries that had failed to file reports, then withdrew two late Wednesday after they realized that those were new cemeteries that did not exist during the filing periods. Magnolia was not one of the two.

Owners of the other Southern California cemeteries on the list could not be reached for comment.