SAN ANTONIO - The Texas Attorney General's office has filed a lawsuit against JoAnn Ramon, owner of Southern Memorial Eastview cemetery, accusing the well known political consultant of burying people without a license since March of last year.
The lawsuit filed by the attorney general's office says, the cemetery on Roland Avenue which is covered with trash, crumbling head stones and weeds and is "neglected to the point of being offensive". The suit details years of complaints by unhappy clients and administrative actions by the Texas funeral services commission over the poor condition of the cemetery.
“It’s pretty sad when you think about it,” says Chris Ortiz as he stands next to his father’s gravesite. “I would rate it fairly poor. It doesn't get much attention. There's been times when the grass has been unattended and ankle high, up to calf height.”
The lawsuit filed November 26th also claims roads and trails in the cemetery have been built on top of existing graves.
The Attorney General claims Ramon has continued to conduct burial despite having been stripped of her license by the Texas Funeral Services Commission. The lawsuit says "defendant continues to operate her cemetery business even though she has not held a license since the cease and desist order of May 27, 2011." During a walk through the cemetery Tuesday I found a gravesite for Jasetta Singletary. The marker says she was buried in 2011. Singletary’s burial was in December of last year according to a local funeral home website. That's six months after the state took away JoAnn Ramon’s license to perform burials.
The democratic consultant recently caught flack after using her cemetery's address in connection with some applications for mail in ballots in a previous election.
Ramon declined to comment on the record about the pending lawsuit, but she tells me her lawyer is working on an answer to the allegations which they will file in court soon.
The state is asking the court to slap Ramon with thousands in fines, including $20,000 per person that was buried at the cemetery after she lost her license.