Cemetery owner charged with theft of $20M in Memphis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A funeral home and cemetery owner accused of stealing millions from cemetery trust funds has been indicted on theft and money laundering charges in Memphis, District Attorney Bill Gibbons announced Friday.

The announcement came a day after oil speculator Clayton R. Smart, 67, of Okmulgee, Okla. was arrested in that city and charged in Michigan in a related case.

The grand jury in Memphis also indicted Smart's business partner Stephen Smith, 60, of Muskogee County, Okla., and financial adviser Mark Singer, 41, of New Hope, Pa., according to a news release from the prosecutor. All three are accused of theft and money laundering.

Both Smith and Singer have been taken into custody and are awaiting extradition to Tennessee, the release said.

Tennessee officials allege that Smart, Smith and Singer looted more than $20 million from trust funds for three cemeteries and funeral homes in Memphis owned by Smart and Smith.

In Michigan, Smart is charged with 39 felony counts of racketeering, embezzlement and misuse of cemetery funds. Attorney General Mike Cox said Smart is accused of embezzling up to $70 million from 28 Michigan cemetery trust funds.

Smith is being held in Oklahoma with bond set at $4.2 million - $300,000 for the charges in Tennessee and another $3.9 million for the Michigan charges, said James Poulin, chief criminal investigator with the Okmulgee County Sheriff's Department.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)