The following release was originally published by Middlesex District Attorney’s office:
For immediate release: December 6, 2016
For more information contact: (781) 897-8325
Cemetery Administrator Arraigned in Connection with Alleged Scheme to Sell Burial Plots
WOBURN – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Melrose Chief of Police Michael Lyle have announced that John Hughes, 70, of Melrose, was arraigned today in Middlesex Superior Court on larceny charges in connection with an alleged scheme to sell unused cemetery burial plots, owned by the City of Melrose, to unsuspecting buyers. Hughes was charged with five counts of larceny over $250 and receiving outside compensation by a municipal employee.
Clerk Magistrate Michael Sullivan released the defendant on personal recognizance. The next scheduled hearing in this case is January 9, 2017.
“As a municipal employee, the defendant was tasked with overseeing the care and maintenance of a cemetery owned by the city of Melrose,” said District Attorney Ryan. “Instead, the defendant allegedly used his position to not only defraud those looking for burial plots, but also the city that had placed its trust in the defendant.”
“These charges are extremely disturbing, as this suspect was the Superintendent of Wyoming Cemetery and allegedly plotted to take advantage of vulnerable residents during a sensitive time in their lives,” Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle said. “I would like to commend the work of the Melrose Police Department Detectives for their dedication and diligence during this case.”
The defendant was appointed Cemetery Administrator of the Wyoming Cemetery in Melrose in 2007. Beginning in 2011 the defendant allegedly began telling individuals looking to buy burial plots for later use, that they could purchase previously sold burial plots within the cemetery at discounted rates. The defendant then allegedly set up straw sellers for individuals to pay for the burial plots and the defendant would then split the funds with the straw sellers, none of whom owned the plots that were sold. The defendant is alleged to have sold 13 burial plots, thereby diverting funds from the City of Melrose, and netting approximately $75,000.
This case was investigated by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and the Melrose Police Department with the cooperation of the City of Melrose.
These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutors assigned to this case are Assistant District Attorney Doug Cannon and Assistant District Attorney Cyrus Chung.