TOPEKA – (July 29, 2011) – The Shawnee County District Court has approved the sale of Mount Hope Cemetery, resolving a lawsuit brought by the attorney general to protect the public interest in the matter, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today.
District Judge Franklin Theis approved the agreement that involves the sale of Mount Hope Cemetery to Newcomer Cemetery Properties. The settlement will honor the contracts with consumers and also will make the statutory cemetery trust funds whole. Under the terms of the settlement, the buyer will purchase the cemetery for $2,299,814.00. The agreement anticipates the sale for development of a part of the unused land on the north of the cemetery where no burial spaces are plotted.
The settlement also provides that three local organizations, which had an interest in the cemetery, receive a portion of the sale proceeds. The Washburn University Endowment Association will receive $132,754, Topeka YWCA will receive $29,507 and Topeka YMCA will receive $14,739.
“Today’s court approval of this agreement ensures the cemetery will remain in responsible hands and will remain a place of distinction, peaceful reflection and gathering for families and friends to visit for many years to come,” Schmidt said. “It also ensures that the charitable benefits owed to Washburn, YWCA and YMCA will be provided. These payments constitute significant investments in the Topeka community.”
On September 10, 2010, Judge Theis granted the attorney general’s request to appoint Wichita attorney Edward Nazar as receiver of the cemetery. The Attorney General’s Office requested Nazar search for a buyer who would honor the contracts made with consumers for burial services, pay three charities that were recognized by the original donors of the land where the cemetery was established, and make the cemetery statutory trust funds whole.
Kansas law authorized the attorney general to bring suit to recover funds wrongfully withdrawn or withheld from cemetery trust funds.