State worker resigns following accusations he took veterans’ headstones

EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — A state employee who’s under federal investigation for taking more than 200 veterans’ headstones that were supposed to be properly destroyed, and using them as foundations for projects in his backyard, resigned today, Target 12 has learned.

Kevin Maynard, of Charlestown, held the job title of Cemetery Specialist at the Rhode Island Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery since 2005. That ended Friday, three days after the headstone incident was first reported by Target 12.

“He resigned his position as of today and is no longer an employee of the State,” Department of Human Services spokesperson Michael Jolin said. The cemetery is part of DHS.

Records indicate Maynard was paid about $50,000 a year, including overtime. Jolin said Maynard has apparently worked for the state long enough to be vested in the pension system, but wouldn’t be eligible until he reached retirement age. If Maynard is charged with a crime for taking the headstones, Jolin said the pension review board would decide if he would still get a pension.

Maynard is a member of Council 94, but an email to union president J. Michael Downy has yet to be returned.

The headstones that mark the graves at the Exeter cemetery are provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. When a headstone needs to be replaced due to damage or wear, we’re told the law requires the old headstone to be destroyed to protect the veterans’ honor and dignity.

A federal search warrant affidavit indicated Maynard bragged about taking the headstones, and according to the document two of his coworkers at the cemetery reported the potential crime to state police last month. The document stated Maynard “admitted that he removed gravestones” and he told investigators “he knew gravestones marked for destruction were to be taken to a facility that would crush them.”

“Maynard said he has personally driven gravestones to the granite crushing facility as part of his duties at RIVMC,” the document stated.

The document indicates that after Maynard’s two unnamed coworkers went to state police last month, VA special agent Jason T. Kravetz and state police detective Erik Yanyar interviewed Maynard, who brought them to his home. Maynard initially told them he took “approximately forty gravestones,” but the total was later said to be 202.

The search warrant affidavit included a number of pictures, showing several headstones with veterans names easy to see. But others were face down, names, dates and service branches buried in the dirt, used as foundations for a shed and two makeshift garages.

In the affidavit, Kravetz wrote “he observed automotive fluids and debris scattered over the gravestones.”

Target 12 went to Maynard’s home but no one answered the door.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau

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