Even after Orange County seized Abbingdon Hill Pet Cemetery and Crematory in 2016 for nonpayment of taxes, and even after the cemetery was sold a year ago at a tax sale, and even after the cemetery license expired in November, caretaker Raymond Fodera continued to accept money for burials, cremations and maintenance.
Last week, Orange Supreme Court Justice Sandra B. Sciortino ordered the cemetery and Fodera to stop engaging in “fraudulent, deceptive and illegal practices” and to repay pet owners who were bilked.
But Fodera, according to a report by the Times Herald-Record newspaper, had died on March 31.
The state began investigating him in March, after pet owners complained about poor conditions at the cemetery. Some people, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a news release, accused Fodera of failing to do burials and cremations for which they had paid.
The cemetery, at 148 Youngblood Road, Montgomery, began operating in 1980. Businessman Ahmad Reyaz bought the 15-acre property last year for $120,000 at a tax lien sale, unaware, according to the attorney general, that it was a pet cemetery.
Judge Sciortino also ordered Fodera and the cemetery to turn over all financial, burial and cremation records to the attorney general. She annulled the certificate of incorporation and decreed that the cemetery be transferred to a charity.
Reyaz agreed to donate the property to a charity, Schneiderman said.
The charity was not identified, but on March 22, according to a Department of State record, Forever Angels Pet Cemetery at Abbingdon Hill was incorporated.
As recently as February 2017, pet owners were singing praise for Fodera in Yelp reviews. “Raymond made it so much easier,” Benita H. of Middletown wrote. “His cats even sensed my pain and came to offer condolences!”
Janet B., of Accord, NY, wrote in 2015 that Fodera had made a heartbreaking experience “a lot less sad. It’s clear that he himself is an animal lover.”
Bea S. of Highland Lakes, New Jersey, who lost her pet bunny, Bob, wrote in 2015 that Fodera truly understood what it means to love and lose a pet.
“I will always hold a special place in my heart,” she said, “for Raymond and Abbingdon.”