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California Briefing / Los Angeles

Cemetery said to have violated law

September 16, 2009|Duke Helfand

A Jewish cemetery in Mission Hills that has been sued for allegedly desecrating hundreds of graves violated a state health and safety code when its operators accidentally disturbed five burial sites over a four-year period, state regulators said Tuesday.

The state's Cemetery and Funeral Bureau found the problems in early 2008 while investigating an allegation that Eden Memorial Park had "demonstrated unprofessional conduct," according to a warning letter that June.

In the letter, the agency warned that formal disciplinary action could be initiated against Eden Memorial if further violations were discovered.

A routine inspection this year found no subsequent violations, he said.

The bureau plans to investigate allegations raised in the lawsuit. Plaintiffs allege that Eden Memorial operators broke open interment vaults and discarded remains to make room for additional bodies.

Eden Memorial could not be reached for comment, and a spokeswoman for its parent company, Houston-based Service Corporation International, did not return phone calls.

In a statement Monday, the company denied the lawsuit's allegations.

-- Duke Helfand

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