Police: Man tried to sell grave markers

Cichenelli held in New York jail

A Johnstown man was arrested Saturday in Waterloo, N.Y., after New York State Police say he attempted to sell nearly 1,000 pounds of veteran grave markers believed to have been stolen in Cambria County.

Ronald Gene Cichenelli Jr. is being held in Seneca County Jail and has been charged with criminal possession of stolen property. The Cambria County Department of Veteran Services issued a news release on Monday regarding the arrest.

Employees at the recycling yard where the items were taken recognized what they were and notified authorities.

The reverse sides of some of the markers were stamped “Cambria County Ebens­burg, PA.”

The investigation started Friday when state police in Ebensburg were notified that brass military grave markers bearing local identification marks were found in New York.

A part of the news release Monday was attributed to the Cambria County commissioners who stated: “These are venerated items meant to pay homage to our county’s veterans. They are paid for by the taxpayers of Cambria County and intended to honor those who have selflessly served us over the generations.”

Under Pennsylvania law, the desecration, theft or sale of venerated objects, such as a veteran’s grave marker, is a second-degree misdemeanor.

A comment from Rep. Frank Burns, D-Johnstown, was included the news release.

“I hope this sends a clear message, that when you steal from a veteran’s grave, we will come at you with the full force of the law,” Burns said.

Josh H. Hauser, Cambria County’s director of veteran services, thanked those involved in alerting authorities.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the recycling yard who notified police, and to the New York state troopers who worked around the clock to track down the suspect,” Hauser said. “We want people to know that if you take these, no matter where you take them to, we will get a call and you will face consequences.”

Hauser noted the irony in the location of the arrest.

“I’m not sure whether or not this individual realizes that Waterloo, New York, is recognized as the first city in our nation to celebrate what’s now called Memorial Day,” Hauser said. “Their residents, like ours, do not tolerate this type of disrespect to our veterans.”

COMMENTS