An employee at the Rhode Island Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, R.I. stole more than 150 upright granite headstones from veterans’ graves and used them as flooring in his garage.
Kevin Maynard an employee at the Rhode Island Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery, stole the worn or broken headstones from the cemetery and took them to his residence in Charlestown, about 15 miles away.
Maynard, 59, used the headstones as flooring for a shed and two make-shift carports that were nothing more than plastic tarps held up by aluminum poles.
The Department of Veterans Affairs furnishes a government headstone, at no charge, for the grave of any deceased eligible Veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of the veteran’s date of death.
When these headstones on veteran’s graves crack or fade with age, they are replaced with a new headstone by the VA, and the cracked or worn headstones are removed “to be honorably destroyed” in a dignified manner.
According to Federal law, all government-furnished headstones remain the property of the United States Government in perpetuity, and the destruction or removal of any government-furnished headstone is prohibited.
Maynard, who had been a state employee with the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery since 2006, had been stealing the headstones a few stones at a time from a secured area on cemetery grounds since 2009.
Two of Maynard’s co-workers turned him in to the Rhode Island State Police after he bragged to them about stealing the headstones and using them at his home. When one of the co-workers visited Maynard’s house, he saw a pickup truck parked on top of the stolen gravestones.
Maynard told investigators that stealing the grave stones was easy, because one of his duties as a cemetery worker was to drive the old gravestones to a facility where the granite was crushed, so he had free and easy access to the cracked or worn headstones. All he had to do was put them in the trunk of his car.
In April, two investigators, an agent from the VA’s Office of the Inspector General 9VA-OIG) and a Rhode Island State Police detective, accompanied Maynard to his home. The investigators discovered the headstones being used as flooring, and in one carport there was even a red late-model Ford parked on top of the gravestones.
Investigators also found other gravestones on the property along with a box of American flags that Maynard had stolen from the Veterans’ Cemetery.
After he was caught, Maynard resigned from his job at the cemetery, and on July 13 in U.S. District Court he pled guilty to one count of theft of government property.
Maynard’ lawyer put it this way, “He knew they were going to be destroyed anyway, so he simply took them.”
According to documents filed with the U.S. Attorney in Rhode Island, Maynard will serve one year’s probation and have to complete 500 hours of community service.