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Post date: August 23 1999

State Files Suit To Oust Directors Of Green Hill Cemetery

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a lawsuit charging the directors of the historic not-for-profit Green Hill Cemetery in Amsterdam with the mismanagement of cemetery assets that led to a loss of more than $150,000.

"The people of the state have a vital interest in the preservation of public burial grounds," Spitzer said. "At Green Hill, cemetery directors abused this trust. They diverted funds from the not-for-profit cemetery into their own accounts."

Spitzer’s office filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Supreme Court against Donald Castor and his wife, Katherine. The couple serves as officers of the cemetery and its only board members. The suit seeks damages from the defendants and their removal from the board.

The action comes after an investigation by the New York State Division of Cemeteries.

"Mismanagement of cemetery trust funds will not be tolerated," Secretary of State Alexander F. Treadwell said. "Those who have invested thousands of dollars in the purchase of permanent maintenance of burial plots must be assured that the final resting place for their family members and loved ones will be properly cared for. Through this action, the State of New York seeks to ensure that these investments are properly managed and that Green Hill Cemetery remains a viable entity."

The suit alleges that the Castors breached their fiduciary duties of care and loyalty. The lawsuit focuses on the Castors’ use of funds from Green Hill’s trust accounts. Under state law, the principle in cemetery trust accounts is protected from unauthorized withdrawal. The Castors allegedly ignored the law and withdrew approximately $150,000 from these accounts.

According to the complaint, Donald Castor deposited these improperly withdrawn funds into the checking account for Green Hill’s General Care fund. Castor then drafted checks to himself, his wife and to Cemetery Services, Inc. (CSI), a for-profit company owned by the Castors. The Castors also failed to account for almost $20,000 in vandalism grants given to Green Hill by the New York State Cemetery Board to repair damaged property.

The lawsuit seeks restitution of any improperly withdrawn funds and appointment of a receiver to manage the cemetery until a new board of directors can be named.

Green Hill is the burial site of a number of leading figures in Montgomery County history, including carpet manufacturer Stephen Sanford, U.S. Rep. Samuel Wallin and many veterans of the nation’s wars.

The lawsuit is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Nathan Courtney of the Charities Bureau.