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Memory Garden Cemetery operator license revoked Print E-mail
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

The operator of the Bamberg County Memory Garden on Highway 78 west of Bamberg said that even though his license was revoked, his license to bury people cannot be revoked. “When someone dies who owns a space out there, they will be buried there,” Kent said Monday.

“What they say, we have some reports not filed, must be done by a certified public accountant (CPA) and we can’t afford to pay a CPA right now, Kent said, adding “ those reports are going to be done and filed and whatever they do is whatever they do.”

Kent said to help families that do not own burial space at the Memory Garden, he has personally contacted people who have spaces for sale. He noted to compound matters that Memory Garden has been robbed three times and a large amount of records and maintenance equipment was lost.

According to legal papers made public by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation Board appearing before the South Carolina Perpetual Care Cemetery Board and signed on April 18, 2012 by James W. Ross, Chairman of the Perpetual Care Cemetery Board: John S. Kent licenses to operate was revoked for failure to furnish the board with financial reports for its care and maintenance trust fund for the calendar and fiscal years from 2003-2009. The report further noted that Kent, who operates perpetual care facilities in Bamberg and Barnwell Counties, failed to submit the “Agreed Upon Procedures Report” for its care and maintenance trust fund for the period January 1, 1991, through December 31, 2006.

According to the April 18, 2012 report, the operator of the Bamberg County Memory Garden had his licenses suspended by “Board Order” on or about November 3, 2010, for failure to submit required financial reports. According to the report, on or about March 8, 2011 an inspection of the Memory Garden facility found that the facility established on November 1, 1970, was “selling cemetery plots with both Bamberg County Memory Garden and Barnwell County Memory Garden after the Board’s Order suspending the license was issued.

According to the report, Kent “acknowledges and admits” the facts in the report , indicating he “continued to make sales despite having his licenses suspended in order to make money and continue payments toward his ownership of the cemeteries.”

The report noted that the “Respondent” violated S.C. Code Ann 40-1-110(f) in that he “committed a dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional act that is likely to deceive, defraud, or harm the public” as evidenced by the failure to comply with the terms of a previous Board Order suspending his licenses.

In the papers filed on November 16, 2012, the operator of the Bamberg County Memory Garden was “publicly reprimanded.” His license was suspended “indefinitely” as of November 16, “or until such time as he submits all records and documents required and pay a fine of $5,000.

Report stated that during the suspension period, the operator was allowed to maintain all “pre-existing contract” including “opening and closing of pre-owned graves. The November 16, report noted that during the suspension period, the respondent was “prohibited from entering into any new sales or sales contracts” until such time as he is in compliance with the terms of the Final Order and all state laws.

Kent stated Monday the trust fund for the Bamberg County Memory Garden was $8,000 behind and has since been made up. “So the trust funds are funded,” he said, adding he was “satisfied that all records were correct.” He stated that he had “all the necessary information required and his next step was to get the paper work to a lawyer.

“We do our best to maintain this cemetery,” Kent said, adding it’s hard to do with no income coming in, but we’re doing it.”

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