HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Despite being accused of stealing thousands of dollars from hundreds of customers the former owner of Hawkins County Memorial Gardens thinks she should again be in charge of her financially struggling cemetery.
Vickie Ringley’s plea is all spelled out in a letter she recently sent from jail. The document is now filed as part of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s ongoing civil case against her. The jailhouse letter is barely legible, but in it Ringley says she’s worried about the situation at her former cemetery.
“I think some or a lot of people would agree that I could go back and make some of the things right,” Ringley said in part. “I just pray for a second chance.”
While Ringley awaits a criminal trial on charges of theft and embezzlement in February the state continues to operate Hawkins County Memorial Gardens with the help of a special deputy receiver.
In a response to Ringley, Special Deputy Receiver Robert Moore, Jr. of Receivership Management Inc., told Ringley she has a right to be heard when the state eventually files a plan regarding the future maintenance and operation of the cemetery.
“Based on your completed sales records alone, you, as the operator of Hawkins County Memorial Gardens, should have trusted $612,579.73,” Moore wrote. “This means that you as the operator have the obligation to deliver at least $612,579.72 worth of merchandise and services and you have stated you have no funds from which to operate the cemetery. The only asset of the operation is the cemetery property itself.”
According to court documents, the agency is still trying to resolve 55 grave ownership claims at the cemetery; plots the state believes were double sold. Moore, acting on the state’s behalf, has said the agency is considering selling the cemetery to “raise the funds for the pre-need services and merchandise trust.” That said, nothing has been finalized, according to those documents.
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