The funeral home director was arrested at a cemetery Dec. 27.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
GIRARD -- A judge has dismissed a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass against a Warren funeral home director who was arrested as a funeral was about to begin in Vienna.
The charge against James McFarland of McFarland Funeral Home in Warren was dismissed Thursday by municipal court Judge Michael Bernard, who said there was insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.
"The defendant had apparent authority to gain access to the property through the power of attorney granted by the deceased's family, and also because evidence may show the defendant was in a public right a way," the judge said in his ruling.
Vienna police arrested McFarland on Dec. 27 as people gathered to attend the burial of Sara Schaffer at Crown Hill Burial Park, 3966 Warren-Sharon Road. As the hearse arrived at Crown Hill, McFarland presented a burial transfer permit to Crown Hill's representatives for the body.
McFarland was then arrested, his attorney, Sam Bluedorn, said.
Bluedorn noted that the cemetery and McFarland had been bickering because the cemetery no longer wanted to deal directly with funeral home directors. The cemetery wants to require family members to make the arrangements, he said.
Officials at Crown Hill declined to comment.
"We currently have a civil case pending where we are stating that the cemetery rules do not conform with Ohio Law," Bluedorn said. The civil suit was filed after McFarland's arrest.
McFarland said he's glad the case is over.
"I was standing up for my family's right," McFarland said. "This is the first time it ever happened to me. I can't believe they interrupted a solemn occasion. It was uncalled for."
Schaffer's family has filed a civil suit against the cemetery and Vienna police. The suit is pending in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.