South Roxana authorities are investigating possible fraud at Wanda Cemetery amid allegations that the cemetery has double-sold plots.
At least one person has filed a complaint about lots she had purchased being resold without her permission, according to South Roxana Police Chief Bob Coles. The woman, who was not named by police, discovered the lots she had paid for had been resold when her husband passed away.
“The supervisors of the Wanda Cemetery are cooperating with the investigation, but did admit this has happened before and did not know how many more lots have been resold to multiple people,” Coles wrote in the release.
Cemeteries are regulated by the state comptroller’s office, and Coles said the investigation has been turned over to them.
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In the meantime, he asked that anyone who has purchased a lot at Wanda Cemetery to check their deeds and contact the cemetery to determine whether the lots have been resold. If so, he said, they should notify the South Roxana Police Department.
This is not the first time the cemetery has been controversial; five years ago, complaints arose about the condition of the cemetery and the legality of the board. It was determined in 2013 that board members should be appointed by the Madison County Board, and most of the current board was appointed at that time.
Wanda Cemetery board president Josh Sullivant said he and the board members found out about the situation a few days ago and notified the person who owned the double-sold plot.
“We immediately took steps to make it right and make sure the woman was refunded her money,” Sullivant said. “I am personally looking into this.”
Sullivant said the current board has been “cleaning up the mess” made by previous boards with poor records and other problems. He said he did not know how many plots may have been double-sold and that they are conducting their own internal investigation as well as cooperating with authorities.
He added that the comptroller’s office has not yet contacted them, but he is expecting to hear from them shortly.
How did it happen? Sullivant said he could not go into details yet, but that was handled by a former employee and he did not know whether it was a mistake or on purpose.
“We need to find out more about why this is going on,” he said.
Wanda Cemetery has more than 6,000 plots and is on Indiana Avenue in South Roxana. It was incorporated as a not-for-profit in 1949.
Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald