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Pet cemetery owner ordered to pay clients who didn't get markers, ashes


A story in Saturday's editions failed to completely name the owner of an Elkridge pet cemetery ordered by a Howard County judge to pay $20,000 to aggrieved pet owners. The cemetery owner's name is William Anthony Green.

The owner of the troubled Rosa Bonheur Memorial Park in Elkridge has been ordered by a Howard County court to pay about $20,000 to aggrieved pet owners for grave markers he never delivered and for giving pet owners ashes from the wrong animals brought in for cremation.

As part of the order, Howard County circuit Judge James B. Dudley said Green's conduct at the pet cemetery involved "lying, misleading and deceiving" clients. Dudley issued the order Monday, but it was not received by the pet owners until yesterday.

Meanwhile, Green, of Sykesville, announced by a faxed message yesterday what he called the "friendly foreclosure" on his 22,000-plot cemetery by Commercial and Farmers Bank in Ellicott City.

Foreclosure would remove an asset -- the pet cemetery -- from the reach of Green's more than 65 creditors. Green, who also faces criminal charges stemming from his actions at the pet cemetery, did not respond to a phone message left at his home last night.

Bank officials said the deal is not complete. Attorney Edgar Gans, who represents the bank, said that the bank needs to research the liens against the cemetery before acting.

"It's a big mess right now. It's been a long time since Mr. Green has paid us, and now he's walking away from the cemetery," Gans said. "We don't want to foreclose on a pet cemetery. The agony of it is to find someone to step forward to buy it."

Several pet owners say they hope a local humane society will purchase the property near U.S. 1 and Route 175.

The Howard judge also ordered an audit of the cemetery's financial records to see how much money Green has made since he was willed the cemetery in 1978.

Anita Mann of Columbia, who joined the suit against Green, said she is elated to have Green "pay back all those he hurt."

"We were really attached to our pets, and losing them was bad, but him deceiving us was worse," said Mann, who gave Green $150 to cremate her cat Eowyn. "I would like to get back some of my money, but at least I've got my cat's ashes back now."

Said Kenneth Walt of Baltimore, who also joined the suit: "If the money comes back, that's fine, but I just want to see someone who really cares about the cemetery take it over -- not someone whose only concerned about making a fast buck like Green."

The court ordered Green to cremate Walt's two dogs, Suzy and Tessa, which investigators found in caskets at the cemetery.

After a show-cause hearing Dec. 23, Bobbi Jo Pitcock, a former employee at the pet cemetery, said that former Gov. William Donald Schaefer's black Labrador was kicked and stomped before it was buried.

Green, 45, did not show up for the hearing. He later told The Sun that he did not know about it.

His criminal trial on theft charges -- related to his operation of the pet cemetery -- is to begin Feb. 28 in Howard District Court. If convicted, he could face 15-year sentences on two of the charges.

Green's troubles with the cemetery are only one aspect of his legal woes.

Also involved in the real estate business, Green has three theft cases pending in Howard District Court related to $4,000 in bad checks he is alleged to have written to subcontractors.

Green's seven development corporations have been sued at least 30 times in Howard, Baltimore and Carroll counties.

He recently filed for personal bankruptcy -- claiming more than $340,000 in debts and less than $50,000 in assets. That filing was dismissed on a technicality.

Pub Date: 2/01/97

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