Bamberg County Memory Garden operator licenses revoked
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

According to a Public Order dated November 13th, from the South Carolina Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation Board, John S. Kent, who operates two Perpetual Care Cemeteries (Bamberg County Memory Garden and Barnwell County Memory Garden) licenses are hereby revoked. According to the order, Kent “may not operate a cemetery, which includes servicing preexisting contracts and may not enter into any new contracts.”

The order stated under “Findings of Fact” Kent was licensed by the board to engage in the business of operating a perpetual care cemetery company in South Carolina and was so licensed “at all times relevant” to the issues raised by the complaint in this matter. The cemetery operator’s licenses were suspended by “Board Order” on or about November 3, 2010, “for failure to submit required financial reports.”

When contacted on Monday afternoon Kent said, “Right now I have no comment,” stating he had just spoken with the attorney for Labor Licensing and Regulation Board (LLRB) and he, “didn’t know what’s going on yet.” Kent further noted another reason he would not comment at this time is that he may take legal action himself.

“Because and until I do, because there may be a law suit pending on my part, I have no comment.”

The order noted that on or about March 8, 2011, an inspection of the Respondent’s facility found the Respondent was selling cemetery plots with both cemeteries “after the Board’s Order suspending the license was issued.” The order further stated that Kent “acknowledges and admits” the facts as described above, indicating he “continued to make sales despite the licensure suspension in order to make money and continue payments toward his ownership of the cemeteries.”

Under “Conclusion of Law” the order stated in-part that Kent violated the South Carolina Code of Laws in that he “willfully” violated the law as evidence by his failure to comply with the terms of a previous Board Order suspending his license. He “intentionally or knowingly, directly or indirectly, violated or has aided or abetted in the violation or conspiracy by his failure to comply with the terms of a previous Board Order suspending the licenses. Further the “Conclusion of Law” states Kent violated the law 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 the licenses. The “Conclusion of Law” concluded by stating, “the sanction imposed is designed not to punish the cemetery operator, but to protect the welfare of the people at large.”

Kent after stating that “once things are straightened out,” he would make a comment further noting the order from the LLRB to not service any pre-existing contracts may be an order to violate the law:

“Because this order that they got here telling me I can’t even service pre-existing contracts-they ordered me to break the law and I’m trying to get straight with them,” Kent said, adding, “But it would be against the law for me not to (service pre-existing contracts). Because if I’ve entered a legal binding contract five years ago to go in when someone needs to be buried and they’re telling me I can’t do that, they’re telling me to break the law. We’re not going anywhere and we’re not hiding,” Kent said, adding that he should know something in a couple of days and would be happy to talk then.