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Crouch convicted after two day trial

A King George County Circuit Court jury has convicted Robert Ray Crouch of 14 felonies in connection with charges that the troubled and controversial cemetery operator defrauded customers of the former Meadow-Brooke Memorial Gardens in King George.  

After a two-day trial before Circuit Judge J. Martin Bass, the jury convicted Crouch of 14 counts of failure to deposit funds in the proper trust account and five counts of obtaining money by false pretenses. The nine women and three men on the jury took just two hours to reach a verdict.

The jury recommended a sentence of 12 months in jail on each of five counts of failure to deposit and fines of $2,500 on each of the 14 individual charges. Crouch could receive a total of five years in prison and be forced to pay $35,000 in fines. Formal sentencing was scheduled for June 20.  Judge Bass ordered a pre-sentencing report and revoked Crouch's bond.

Crouch, 47, of King George has been in court for previous felony charges. In 2010, Crouch pleaded guilty in Spotsylvania to obtaining money by false pretenses and received a three-year sentence which was suspended after promising to pay $25,000 in restitution.

In 2011, Crouch was charged with grand larceny in connection with allegations that he sold 21 grave markers belonging to others.  In a bench trial, Judge Bass found Crouch not guilty of those charges. In the latest trial, King George Commonwealth's Attorney Keri Gusmann presented a strong case on behalf of the victims and Crouch was not so fortunate.

Gusmann presented her case with a large group of witnesses who testified to the facts of each charge against Crouch which involved them.

Some 50 people were in the jury pool where 14 were finally selected, the 12 permanent juries for the trial and two alternates.

In her final instructions to the jury before they imposed their sentences, Gusmann reminded them how much this case had involved and affected the King George Community and how vulnerable people are at the time of bereavement.

She had Doris Gohring, whose daughter is buried at Historyland, and who was particularly injured because of Crouch’s actions, how his actions had affected her. Her words and tears were a fitting response.

----Richard Leggitt

 

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