- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The owner of a Memphis-area cemetery was arrested Friday on charges that three bodies were buried in the same grave without permission, authorities said.

Jemar Lambert, 38, has been charged with theft of property over $1,000 and abuse of a corpse, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said in a news release. Lambert owns Galilee Memorial Gardens Cemetery in the Memphis suburb of Bartlett. Court records did not show whether he has a lawyer.

Weirich said the cemetery improperly buried the remains of three different people in the same grave on March 9 and March 12 of last year. Lambert’s arrest stems from an investigation that began in November, when a search for a missing body at the cemetery led those helping with the search to make a report to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

The department, which regulates the state’s cemeteries, has filed a request for a temporary restraining order, shutting down the cemetery. The department also has filed a petition for receivership, which would allow Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak to take control of the cemetery’s operations.

A search warrant seeks files, computer records and electronic and digital data that may shed light on other possible criminal activity related to the cemetery’s burial records, officials said.

“We believe that the owners and proprietors of Galilee Memorial Gardens cannot act in the best interest of the community,” said McPeak. “This is the beginning of a complex process that involves many moving parts.”

In a separate case, Lambert was indicted last year on charges that he sold burial plots to families on adjacent land not owned by the cemetery. His attorney in that case, Coleman Garrett, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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