- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 25, 2015

GAINESVILLE, Mo. (AP) - The Ozark County sheriff said no charges will be filed against a man who took unused national cemetery gravestones that were in a landfill to pave his patio.

The stones have been removed and will be buried on county property in a Tuesday ceremony, which will include a veterans’ honor guard and local Cub Scouts, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1PwBGh1 ) reported.

Sheriff Darrin Reed said the stones were taken to the landfill, because of spelling errors or other blemishes. He sought no charges against the man, because the company which cut the stones never billed the federal government for the defective ones. Reed adds the man didn’t realize the significance of his actions.

“The guy used poor judgment and taste,” Reed said. “He kept apologizing to us…he told me he didn’t think the thing through.”

Navy veteran Ed Harkreader took a photo of the patio and posted it on Facebook, because he considered the use of the stones offensive to veterans and their families. Some of the stones were installed face up, showing the names and dates of death of veterans and spouses.

Harkreader said he was pleased with the outcome in the case and that he and other veterans plan to meet with the man to help him replace the patio.

“We want to make something good of this,” he said.

Unused gravestones are required to be destroyed under government regulations. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas City, which covers Ozark County, said the office probably will take no action.

Other cases have resulted in charges. A former employee at a national cemetery in Rhode Island pleaded guilty last month to stealing about 150 discarded gravestones to pave his carport. Prosecutors are recommending one year of probation for the employee’s sentence, which is set for October.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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