The former owner of Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery in Joplin was sentenced Wednesday in federal court for failing to pay more than $1.1 million in payroll taxes that were deducted from his employees’ wages.
Gregory E. Crocker, 44, of Joplin, was sentenced to two years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Crocker to pay restitution of $1,586,024. The amount includes the more than $1.1 million that Crocker failed to pay the Internal Revenue Service, plus interest.
On Nov. 8, 2011, Crocker pleaded guilty to failing to account for and pay over to the IRS money that was deducted from employees’ paychecks for federal income taxes, and Social Security and Medicare taxes. Crocker admitted that for an eight-year period ending in March 2010, he willfully failed to pay payroll taxes to the IRS and to file employer’s federal quarterly income tax returns.
U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner handed down the sentence in federal court in Springfield. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich.
Crocker was an owner and the executive officer of Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery, a cemetery and marketer of pre-need funeral services.
The cemetery in 2010 was among properties to be offered in the county tax sale because two years of property taxes totaling $28,000 had not been paid.
The operation also had been placed on probation by the Missouri Office of Endowed Care Cemeteries, a regulatory agency that oversees cemeteries with perpetual care funds. The state required the cemetery to pay $33,447 into its endowed care trust fund. The amount represented what should have been paid into the fund from 2004 through 2006.
The cemetery on North St. Louis Avenue had been in the Crocker family for years. It now is owned by Donna and Gary Hall, who bought the operation in late 2010.
BEFORE THE CEMETERY CHANGED HANDS, the operation had been the source of complaints from people who said grave markers or other services for which they had paid were not being delivered.