ST. PETERSBURG - State investigators apparently ran out of patience with cemetery owner Cliff Work. Just 18 months ago, the Department of Financial Services ordered Work to correct chronic violations dating back to 2009. A pattern of problems the I-Team recently exposed that had not been corrected and include neglected, missing and misplaced markers
Now the department is asking the Board of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services to revoke or suspend Work's license and or impose fines that could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Kathy Powell trusted Royal Palm South with the remains of her mom and her dad, a World War II veteran. Her still-born twins are also buried at the cemetery. Powell discovered the disappearance of her parents' grave markers during a visit in January. She says cemetery workers found the stones under nearly a foot of dirt.
Virginia Stoner told us her mother's marker had been moved in the last year. Now she has no idea where her mom is actually buried.
In December and January we reported our findings at Royal Palm South to the state. According to the order released Tuesday, the Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services met on February 19 and found probable cause to charge all four properties Work owns with violating Florida statutes pertaining to funerals and cemeteries.
In a new state filing the owner's attorney has responded to the state's allegations. Cliff Work disputes the state's findings and is now requesting an administrative hearing.
Work also owns Royal Palm North, Sarasota Memorial Cemetery and the Bradenton Funeral Home, all of which have been cited for multiple and repeated violations in recent years.
At this point, Cliff Work has 21 days to respond before the state makes a decision. I reached out to his attorney this afternoon and was told she was not available for comment.
To see the filed complaint, visit http://wfts.tv/WIeVef .