Judge gives grave robber maximum sentence for thefts

AKRON -- Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty gave a grave robber the maximum sentence for his crime of stealing bronze flower vases and urns from dozens of grave sites at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery on Canton Road here.

Gregory Wade, 47, of Mogadore, pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday.

Wade was convicted of stealing over 100 bronze vases from the cemetery grave sites and selling them for scrap.

At the sentencing hearing, several family members whose loved ones' graves were desecrated spoke out.

Ronald Wharton, of Columbus, came to court to tell the judge and the defendant that Wade had stolen a vase from the grave of his son, Aaron, who died as an infant in 1970.

"It was my baby's memorial," Wharton said.

Marjorie Wood spoke of the graves of her two parents, who died in 1985 and 1989, and how the crime affected her emotionally.

June Berringer sent a letter to the court, and Assistant Prosecutor Elliot Kolkovich recounted how Bettinger described in the letter how upsetting it was to go to visit her 6-year-old grandson Michael's grave site and discover it had been violated.

"Shame on you," McCarty said, as she sentenced Wade to the maximum 18-month sentence.

"You trod on a peaceful place. Sometimes the law does not adequately address the emotional effects of a crime that is committed. This is one of those times."

McCarty also ordered restitution be paid to the families for the replacement cost of the vases.


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