Action News Troubleshooters help widow with husband's headstone

TREVOSE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Action News Troubleshooters answered the call from a local widow and looked into a major cemetery operator headquartered in our area. We were alerted to the company by Mary Ellen Santucci, a widow trying to carry out her husband's final burial wishes.

Mary Ellen and Victor Santucci were married for 35 years. Unfortunately, Victor passed away in November from a combination of congestive heart failure, diabetes and sepsis.

"He tried to take care of everything beforehand so that I wouldn't have to worry about it," said Mary Ellen.

Back in April 2019, the Santucci's finished paying Trevose-based StoneMor nearly $8,000 for their headstones and installation at Calvary Cemetery in Conshohocken.

But when Victor died seven months later, Mary Ellen said the headstone wasn't in place.

"While we were at the gravesite, my funeral director told me he thought he saw the stone on the side of the road," she said.

Not just theirs, but stone after stone after stone belonging to others, grave liners were strewn about as well.

"It looked like building blocks just laying there," she said. "And I just kept thinking I don't know what they're doing."

Mary Ellen also paid $600 for perpetual care of her husband's grave, but when she went to visit in January, "There's still red, white and blue ribbon from his funeral flowers on top of his grave and he was buried November 25," she said.

StoneMor, Inc runs 321 cemeteries and 90 funeral homes in 27 states and Puerto Rico.

In April, the company settled with the Pennsylvania Attorney General over alleged deceptive business practices and agreed to pay a total of $50,000, half to go to consumers and half to the state.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, "This company failed to meaningfully inform consumers" about how it operated its "pre-need" agreements.

Meantime, Mary Ellen called on the Troubleshooters for help. And after months of waiting, she finally got results.

"Makes me feel wonderful, I just, I'm so glad that his grave looks better than it did," she said.

Victor's headstone is installed and engraved and the cemetery has been cleaned.

"I just couldn't let it rest, I couldn't. It was not, it was disrespectful to him and I would never be disrespectful to him," she said.

StoneMor said in part, "The settlement (with the AG) allows the closure of this 5-year investigation without any fault or wrong-doing being recognized by StoneMor."

And as far as the Santucci situation StoneMor blames the delay on weather conditions and new landscaping.

Keith Trost, vice president FP&A and investor relations of StoneMor released this statement to Action News

"The settlement allows the closure of this 5-year investigation without any fault or wrong-doing being recognized by StoneMor. The practice of pre-burying vaults is a legal business practice that carries benefits to consumers.

In terms of Mrs. Santucci's concerns regarding her monument, the monument was proofed and sent for production in June 2019. It was delivered in November but given the winter weather conditions, the foundation could not be poured until February. Before installing the monument, we performed some additional landscaping, including the installation of new sod. Everything is now in place to the customer's satisfaction."

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