HANCOCK CO. — A Hancock County judge has issued a $379,500 judgment against a Greenfield monument company and ordered them not to engage in deceptive or unfair acts involving consumer transactions.
The judge’s December 12 decision follows an August report from WRTV Investigates about Greenfield Granite’s business practices.
Following our report, the Indiana Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against Greenfield Granite accusing the company of taking money from grieving families and not finishing the headstones.
Cynthia Heck, the company’s registered agent, failed to provide a response to the lawsuit, so the judge entered a default judgment in favor of the state.
The decision allows the Attorney General’s office to recover property from Greenfield Granite including headstones and tools and distribute them to victims of Greenfield Granite’s “deceptive and unfair acts for the purpose of making restitution.”
The judge’s ruling also ensures any cremains located on the property will be distributed to the Greenfield Police Department for identification and distribution to the next of kin.
Greenfield Granite violated the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, the judge ruled, and ordered the company to pay $379,500.
If the state is able to collect the money, a chunk will be distributed to dozens of victims of the company.
“I am hopeful we get some of our money back,” said Mary Collins, who paid for her husband’s engraved bench but never received it.
Victims like Sheila Carson are still waiting for their loved ones' headstones that are still on the Greenfield Granite property.
Greenfield Granite’s owner Amie Strohl died by suicide in September amid the Greenfield Police Department’s criminal investigation into Amie and her business practices.
Prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges following a more than three-month criminal investigation into a Greenfield monument company.
WRTV Investigates raised questions about Greenfield Granite’s business practices back in August when customer after a customer said they paid for headstones but never received them.
The decision not to prosecute is not sitting well with consumers like Mary Collins, who paid $1,859 for her husband’s bench memorial and never received the bench or a refund.
"That really disturbs me, because I would think a company is still responsible,” said Collins.
Mary Collins had to pay another company to finish her husband Norman’s bench.
“It makes me sick that they can do this and get away with it,” said Collins. “To think of all the people who suffered because of this.”
Hancock County prosecutor Brent Eaton said they will not be filing criminal charges against anyone because heir suspect is deceased.
Greenfield Police Detective Nichole Gilbert said she’s talked with more than 100 potential victims who’ve spent a total of $130,000 on headstones, many of whom have never received them.
"We did have a pretty strong case with Amie; however, with her death, we had to change gears on that,” said Gilbert. "I feel for these people, and I understand they wanted criminal charges . I worked with the prosecutor's office to make sure we weren't missing something that could be charged, but also knowing the law and what could be proven, and the evidence we would need— I know personally it's not there."
But the case is even more complicated now because Amie Strohl’s husband, James Strohl, filed for bankruptcy on October 20.
James Strohl lists his partial ownership of Greenfield Granite in the filing and also says he did manual labor while his wife handled all office work.
“After she committed suicide as a result of the business problems, he became aware of the financial issues with the business and the undelivered work,” read James Strohl’s bankruptcy filing. “The police have her suicide notes indicating that the Debtor had no knowledge of the problems with the business. He has not seen the notes but was made aware of the notes.”
Amie Strohl’s mother, Cynthia Heck, is listed as Greenfield Granite’s registered agent in the Attorney General’s lawsuit against Greenfield Granite.
Records show Heck sold the Greenfield Granite building, 952 W Main Street, for $120,000 on September 2—a week before Amie Strohl’s death.
Detective Gilbert said she’s reviewed financial records, but can’t disclose her findings to WRTV because the information is now part of the state’s case against Greenfield Granite.
WRTV has been unable to reach Strohl or Heck for comment via email.
No one answered at Greenfield Granite, and it appears the company has not been operating for several weeks now.
No attorney is listed in court documents.