PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A former state employee who admitted to taking more than 100 veterans’ headstones and using them for projects in his backyard, made his initial appearance in federal court, and will eventually plead guilty as part of a plea agreement, Target 12 has learned.
Kevin Maynard, 59, of Charlestown, pleaded not guilty to one count of theft of government property before a federal magistrate. His attorney, Kevin Bristow said the federal system does not allow a defendant to plead guilty before a magistrate, but he said the former ‘cemetery specialist’ at the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Exeter will plead guilty at a hearing that has yet to be scheduled.
“He recognized that what he did was wrong, very wrong,” Bristow said after the brief hearing. “He’s accepted responsibility and he’s going to enter a plea. And that’s what his plan’s been all along.”
Maynard did not comment. He resigned his cemetery job three days after the details of the investigation were reported by Target 12, and according to the plea agreement the government will recommend one year probation and at least 500 hours of community service.
A federal search warrant affidavit stated Maynard “bragged” to co-workers about taking the headstones, and admitted to investigators that he knew the law called for grinding up the granite to protect the dignity of the veterans whose names are on the markers.
He recognized that what he did was wrong, very wrong.”
State police and a federal agent from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs began investigating Maynard in April. According to the affidavit, at least 150 markers and a box of American flags were found on Maynard’s property.
The affidavit included several pictures that show headstones planted in the ground of Maynard’s backyard, face down with the names, dates and service branches buried in the dirt, used as foundations for a shed and two makeshift garages.
Bristow said Maynard cooperated with investigators from day one.
“He admitted what he had done. He took police to his house and showed them where the stones were,” Bristow said.
The headstones that mark the graves at the Exeter cemetery are provided free of charge to families of veterans by the V A. Cracked or deteriorated stones are also replaced for free, and the damaged ones are stacked in an area at the cemetery until they can be hauled away to be destroyed.
The affidavit indicated two of Maynard’s coworkers at the cemetery reported the potential crime to state police. The document stated Maynard “admitted that he removed gravestones” and he told investigators “he knew gravestones marked for destruction were to be taken to a facility that would crush them.”
“Maynard said he has personally driven gravestones to the granite crushing facility as part of his duties at RIVMC,” the document stated.
The document also states that VA special agent Jason T. Kravetz and state police detective Erik Yanyar interviewed Maynard, who brought the officers to his home. Maynard initially told them he took “approximately 40 gravestones,” but the total ballooned to 150 according to investigators.
In the affidavit, Kravetz wrote there was “automotive fluids and debris scattered over the gravestones.”
According to a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Human Services, Maynard worked for the state long enough to be vested in the state pension system, but he wouldn’t be eligible until he reached retirement age. The spokesperson said once the case is ajudicated, the pension review board would decide whether or not Maynard would still get a pension.Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter@wbuteau