State lays out civil allegations against cemetery owner - FOX Carolina 21

State lays out civil allegations against cemetery owner

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Vickie Ringley Vickie Ringley
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HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) - The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is blasting the owner of Hawkins County Memorial Gardens for her business practices.

Cemetery owner Vickie Ringley is scheduled to appear at a state hearing next week that will determine her cemetery's future and if she'll be part of that future.

News Channel 11 has obtained the accusations the State of Tennessee is expected to level against Ringley at the hearing next week.

There are roughly 40 alleged violations of state law and state rules and regulations in all.  

Among the civil charges against the woman, the State of Tennessee has outlined 21 cases where people allegedly paid for services that either took forever to be delivered or to this day are still unaccounted for.

For example, the state says it took Ringley nine months to install the marker for a deceased infant's grave. For other graves the state says it took even longer in some cases, anywhere from a year to two years. In one case the state says four years after payment Ringley had still not placed a marker at someone's grave.

The state accuses Ringley of intentionally and knowingly misappropriating and misapplying customers' money.

In addition, the state says she has failed to maintain records of every burial, date of sale and contract numbers, among other things.

The state says Ringley never renewed her expired registration.

Finally, despite banning her from operating the cemetery back in February, the state says Ringley ignored that order.

"The Respondent, after being personally serviced with an Order of Summary Suspension lawfully entered by the Commission, willfully violated its express terms by continuing to solicit sales of lots and/or merchandise and services," the Notice of Hearing and Charges states.

Depending how the hearing goes next week, the department says its commissioner is authorized to fine Ringley $1,000 for every violation. She could also be on the hook for additional investigation and court costs.

In addition, the state says Ringley could end up out of business.

"Respondent's violations constitute grounds for the Commissioner to suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue or renew her certificate of registration," the document states.

Ringley is ordered to attend the hearing on May 21st. Some of Ringley's alleged victims confirm to us they received subpoenas this week. They say they will also be at next week's hearing to share their stories.

While that hearing deals with civil issues, separately the local district attorney's office is investigating more than 100 complaints in regards to Ringley and her cemetery. Prosecutors say those complaints are of a criminal nature.

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