COLUMBIA, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- A York County man is facing a felony charge after police say he collected money for a memorial bought at a Lancaster County cemetery where he worked.
Authorities say that memorial never went to the man who ordered it, and the money never went to the cemetery.
This is the cemetery where Edward Knee worked as a family service counselor, and according to police, and the cemetery's owner, scammed a man out of a memorial for his fiancé who passed away after she was in a car accident.
"It's a significant piece to Johanna’s memory,” said Nathan Fleming of York.
Fleming says he just wants a memorial to honor his fiancé Johanna Roque, who passed away after a car accident in August 2015.
"Actually having a piece to present to a child that's something that's a little more beneficial to the grieving process,” he explained.
He bought a memorial from 40-year old Edward Knee who worked at Laurel Hill Memorial Gardens in Columbia. Fleming met Knee at the barber shop where Fleming cuts hair.
"He was a familiar face I thought I could trust."
Now, Knee faces a felony fraud charge after police say he pocketed nearly $2,500.00 dollars in memorial money that should’ve went to the cemetery. Fleming says he considered Knee a friend.
"Immediately, he offered his help."
Fleming says he met with Knee multiple times between August 2015 and July 2016 to talk about the memorial and says he didn't believe knee would scam him.
"I felt like what he was saying in a lot of times, it was legit. It seemed like honest excuses,” said Fleming when asked if he ever doubted Knee’s intentions.
Authorities say Knee created fake invoices and a fake payment history, and Fleming says he went even further to hide the alleged scam.
"Besides my name, they didn't have a valid address because he entered in an address – I don't even know where he got that address from,” he added.
According to officials, in January 2017, Knee quit working for the cemetery, and police say, an audit revealed that Fleming's file was indeed missing. He has a message for others who may be dealing with a tragedy:
"Just be mindful, just be mindful of who you’re dealing with. It’s still a business, just like anything else,” said Fleming.
The money Fleming paid to Knee will be credited towards the memorial, and according to the cemetery’s owner, the leftover $900.00 balance on the memorial will be forgiven.