Client’s Challenge: A Graveyard is Declared a Crime Scene

First, there were financial irregularities at the cemetery. Then human bones were discovered strewn about the grounds. When the first task force of law enforcement investigators arrived at the scene, they discovered that hundreds of graves had been excavated, the remains unceremoniously dumped, and the grave sites resold for cash. Within hours, authorities declared the site a crime scene and shut down operations.

The community was outraged and anguished. The city’s health department was in high gear. And clamor from the press reached a fever pitch. The cemetery soon declared bankruptcy. When the court appointed a receiver, it selected a religious charity that had quietly stepped forward to take responsibility for re-interring the mistreated remains. Unaccustomed to the harsh glare of the national spotlight that follows television news teams, criminal investigators and yellow crime tape, the receiver tapped a trusted advisor, Hillard Heintze, for assistance.

Our Solution: Undertaking a Highly Sensitive Investigation

For many years, Hillard Heintze has served as a fair, ethical and impartial investigator for religious organizations of various orders across the country on issues ranging from the investigation of decades-old accusations of sexual abuse to strategic due diligence and background investigations of priests and clerics either accused of a crime or earmarked for appointment to national positions of leadership.

Supporting this particular receiver was a natural extension of these relationships. For nearly a year, Hillard Heintze served as the receiver’s liaison with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies investigating the crimes at the cemetery. During the same time period, Hillard Heintze also provided strategic, tactical and fundamental support, counsel and private investigative services to the receiver on a number of related fronts.

Impact on the Client: Restoring Order – and Respect

Crises – by definition – are nearly always marked by urgency and chaos. Planning helps. So does the presence of advisors who understand how to gently guide the client toward their goals, with minimal interference, distraction and challenge. By this benchmark and others, Hillard Heintze served the receiver with integrity and distinction.

Unplugged: The Project Manager's Post-Engagement Perspective

“This was a high-profile case. And I think a good portion of the value we provided to the client was in buffering them from the drama on a day-to-day basis. If not hour-to-hour.

By serving as the receiver’s representative to key law enforcement constituencies, we helped to both streamline the external investigative process and preserve the client’s ability to carry out their organizational mission – and their legal duties, as assigned by the bankruptcy court – in a productive manner.”

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