CHICAGO -- A former director of Burr Oak Cemetery was sentenced to 12 years in prison Friday after she pleaded guilty to several charges stemming from "bogus graves" found on the burial grounds in Chicago suburb of Alsip, Ill.
Carolyn Towns, 51, of Blue Island, Ill., was convicted of stealing more than $100,000 from the corporation that managed Burr Oak Cemetery, according to a release from the Cook County State's Attorney's office.
Appearing before Cook County Judge Frank Castiglione, Towns pleaded guilty to dismembering a human body, theft from a place of worship, damaging 10 or more gravestones, removal of human remains of multiple deceased human beings from a burial ground and conspiracy to dismember human bodies, officials said.
Towns also was accused of accepting cash payments for burials and keeping the money for herself. Officials said she would instruct grave diggers to bury the bodies in occupied graves to cover up her scheme.
In some cases, the grave diggers would dig up and remove the remains, crush the vaults and caskets and then dump the bodies in another area of the cemetery, officials said. The area that used for dumping bodies was also used for storing garbage and dirt, officials said.
In other instances graves were double-stacked, a practice referred to by cemetery employees as creating a "bogus grave," according to the release. That practice involved removing caskets, digging the grave deeper, replacing the vault and covering it with dirt to make space for another burial, officials said.
Also charged in connection with the scheme are Maurice Daily, 61, of Robbins, Ill., and Keith Nicks, 47, and Terrence Nicks, 41, both of Chicago, officials said.
Those defendants were scheduled to appear in court next week.
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