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Cemetery owner given ultimatum on cleanup

SOUTH POINT — Larry Carter has 60 days to clean up the makeshift dumpsite at his cemetery or he could go to prison.

That was a condition of the sentence handed down by Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge D. Scott Bowling Wednesday morning.

On Monday, Carter, owner of Highland Memorial Gardens in South Point, was found guilty of open dumping, an unclassified felony, for throwing plastic flowers and pots from graves over a hillside at the back of the cemetery.

Carter was facing a maximum fine of $25,000 and a possible prison sentence of up to four years.

However, Bowling fined Carter $10,000 and placed him on four years community controlled sanctions.

Bowling also told Carter he had to clean up the site or be sent to prison for two years.

Off and on for the past five years Ohio EPA has demanded Carter remove the flowers and other debris. In June of 2009 a Lawrence County Grand Jury indicted him on the felony charge.

At issue during the trial was not whether the flowers had been dumped.

Rather Michael Davenport, Carter’s attorney, offered the argument that the debris was essentially harmless and that it is made out of the same substance as burial vaults and water and sewer lines that are buried.

However Lawrence County Assistant Prosecutor Mack Anderson argued that the issue was that open dumping is against the law, not whether the law is appropriate.

After the trial Anderson said he was pleased with the verdict.

“It is just a sign we want to clean up the county and not have open dump sites,” he said.

Carter declined comment after the sentencing.