When headstones on the graves of fallen servicemen crack or fade with age, they’re hauled away to be honorably destroyed. Then the Department of Veterans Affairs replaces them.
But at a veterans cemetery in Rhode Island, an employee who was supposed to be taking care of the graves pillaged more than 150 granite headstones, many of them still inscribed with the names of the veterans. Then he took the markers home to build a floor for his carport.
When investigators arrived at Kevin Maynard’s house in Charlestown, R.I., this spring, they come upon an eerie scene, according to a federal affadavit: The grave markers, most with the inscriptions face down, were serving as the foundation for two makeshift carports held up by aluminum poles and plastic tarps.
In one carport, Maynard’s red, late-model Ford truck was parked on top of the stones. The rest were scattered about the property. On one, the inscription honoring a World War II veteran and his wife were intact:
ROMEO J A PELLETIER
TEC4 US ARMY
WORLD WAR II
JUL 51919 JUN 21 2011
HIS WIFE GRACE JOYCE
OCT 31925 JAN 231991
Authorities suspect that Maynard had been taking the headstones from a secured area on cemetery grounds since 2009, a few stones at a time.
Maynard, 59, was arraigned on Monday in U.S. District Court. He is scheduled for sentencing later this summer on one count of theft of government property under a plea agreement that will allow him to serve one year’s probation and 500 hours of community service, according to documents filed with the U.S. Attorney in Rhode Island.
Two of Maynard’s co-workers turned him in to the Rhode Island State Police, court documents show. The employees told investigators for the police and VA’s inspector general that he bragged about stealing the gravestones and using them at his home. One co-worker had visited the house and seen Maynard’s truck parked on top of as many as 75 gravestones.
Maynard, who has since resigned, had been a state employee with the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery since 2006. Stealing the grave stones was apparently easy: He told investigators that part of his duties as a cemetery worker was to drive the old gravestones to a facility where the granite would be crushed before new grave stones arrived.
Maynard’s attorney, Kevin Bristow of Providence, R.I. did not respond to a request for comment. There was no answer at Maynard’s home.