Galilee cemetery’s radar study results under review

Galilee Memorial GardensBad weather and other issues delayed completion of the ground-penetrating radar study at the closed Galilee Memorial Gardens in Bartlett until March 15.

The data is now being analyzed and cross-referenced before the state recommends how to proceed with nearly 600 claims for the available spaces.

The eighth interim report detailing progress on the cemetery was filed in Davidson County Chancer Court Monday, giving the updates on the radar process. Radar was being used to determine the number and location of open grave spaces.

Galilee is the troubled Bartlett cemetery that has been notorious since 2013-14 for allegations of land theft to bury bodies, multiple bodies being buried in the same spot, and haphazard or missing records about where bodies were placed. Owner Jemar Lambert pleaded guilty in a deal that left him with 10 years’ probation. He still faces costly class-action civil lawsuits. The company is in receivership and is being managed by Receivership Management Inc. (RMI).

Ground-penetrating radar was ongoing from mid-January through March 15, although initial estimates were for 10 working days. The report noted that issues with scheduling and bad weather caused delays. The soil type also made scanning particularly difficult in two sections of the cemetery — the Garden of Hope and the Garden of Paradise.

An RMI representative, Robert E. Moore Jr., now must perform an annotation of each section of the cemetery. This requires him to cross-reference the information from the radar study with other information, including RMI’s previous probing. This annotation process is currently underway.

The report states that the cemetery’s receiver expects to be able to make recommendations on resolving grave space claims at the cemetery once the annotation process is completed.

People who say they have purchased pre-need burial rights in the cemetery had claimed a total of 573 burial spaces as of March 16.

In early January, RMI sent 218 requests for more information, and responses to those requests are still under review.

Other updates

The eighth interim report also provided the following updates:

  • As of Feb. 9, no plots had been sold since the cemetery went into receivership (the official custody of someone other than the owner while legal issues are being sorted out).
  • The property has been approved to be exempt from taxation for now.
    Special Deputy Receiver David Kustoff, a Memphis attorney, received the notice of initial determination around Feb. 23 on this request he made earlier to the Tennessee State Board of Equalization.
  • As of March 16, total costs for the receivership were approximately $414,148.70. Of that amount, $21,450 was paid for improvement care from the Improvement Care Trust Account. The rest came from the Cemetery Consumer Protection Account.
  • The Cemetery Consumer Protection Account had a total balance of $541,769.23 as of Jan. 31. Invoices of about $19,474.65 have been received since that data, and more are expected for services during that time period.
  • The next report is anticipated around June 17.