Ex-manager of bone-strewn cemetery charged with embezzling

The Detroit News

Bridgeport, Conn. – A former caretaker of a Connecticut cemetery where police found bones strewn about and new graves placed over old ones is facing a new charge of embezzling more than $60,000 from the cemetery.

Dale LaPrade, 66, was charged with first-degree larceny on Sept. 10 after a forensic audit discovered the theft of funds from Park Cemetery in Bridgeport between 2016 and 2018. Police announced her arrest on Tuesday.

In this Oct. 2, 2018 file photo, toppled headstones rest on the ground in Park Cemetery in Bridgeport, Conn.
This undated photo provided by the Bridgeport Police department shows Dale LaPrade, a former caretaker of Park Cemetery in Bridgeport, Ct.

“A forensic fraud examiner who assisted detectives determined that LaPrade made several cash withdraws a day in some instances, and utilized over $60,000 of cemetery funds for personal expenses that were earmarked for burials and perpetual care,” Bridgeport police said in a statement.

A woman who answered a phone listing for LaPrade on Wednesday declined to comment. Her public defender, Kelly Billings, said LaPrade maintains her innocence.

“She looks forward to defending herself against these baseless allegations in a court of law, not in the court of public opinion,” Billings said.

LaPrade, of Stratford, was previously charged with felony interfering with a cemetery and larceny. She has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

In this Oct. 3, 2018 file photo, a distraught Jean Stott, of Shelton, Conn., tries to find the exact spot where a family member is located after the tombstone, had been moved at Park Cemetery in Bridgeport, Conn.

In 2018, Bridgeport authorities said they found about 130 graves disturbed at the 57-acre cemetery, included those of Civil War veterans. Gravestones and remains had been removed to make way for the newly dead, while some new graves were stacked on top of old ones, separated by a layer of dirt.

This Nov. 29, 2018 file photo shows Park Cemetery in Bridgeport, Conn. Authorities say gravestones and human remains at the cemetery were moved to make way for the newly dead.

Officials found headstones and human bones thrown about on part of the property.

A state judge appointed a panel to oversee the cemetery after LaPrade’s first arrest, and it has spent nearly $90,000 on cleaning up the cemetery, Hearst Connecticut Media reported.