ShareThis Page
News

Penn Hills gravestone business owner who swindled mourning families sentenced to jail

| Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 11:12 a.m.
Curtis Eakman, owner of Penn Hills Monuments, is taken into custody by Penn Hills Detective William Trogler (right) and District Attorney's Office Detective Jackelyn Weibel, at Magisterial District Judge Leonard HRomyak's courtroom in Penn Hills on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 5, 2014.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Curtis Eakman, owner of Penn Hills Monuments, is taken into custody by Penn Hills Detective William Trogler (right) and District Attorney's Office Detective Jackelyn Weibel, at Magisterial District Judge Leonard HRomyak's courtroom in Penn Hills on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 5, 2014.

Each time Curtis Eakman writes a check to put toward the court-ordered restitution a judge told him to pay Tuesday, Sandra Henderson hopes he thinks of her father.

Henderson's dad, George Henderson III, died in January 2013 and was laid to rest among members of his family along a low-sloped hill in Churchill Cemetery in Wilkins.

Henderson of New Albany, Ohio, wanted to match her father's headstone to that of her grandfather, George Henderson II, and Eakman, the former owner of Penn Hills Monuments on Saltsburg Road, promised to deliver.

If she paid cash, he told her, she'd get a discount.

Days went by, then weeks and months. The headstone never appeared.

“His birthday came and went, then it was Memorial Day and the planting of red, white and blue flowers ... and I now stood alone, on top of his unmarked grave,” Henderson said.

Then came Father's Day. An anniversary. Thanksgiving. Still, George Henderson III, who for decades worked in transportation logistics at Westinghouse, lay in an unmarked grave.

“My mother was shaken to the core that someone would actually do this,” Henderson said.

On Tuesday, Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani ordered Eakman, 53, who has a Clearfield address, to serve one to two years in jail, serve 12 years on probation and repay a total of $98,000 to Henderson and the 55 other families from whom he stole money.

Eakman's lawyer, Casey D. White, called the judge's sentence “fair” but added that his client's incarceration will prevent him from paying restitution until he's released and finds a new job. Eakman had been working at Lowe's and was going to be promoted to full time in a couple of weeks, White said.

“He knows he has a duty to repay the money,” White said. “Our goal all along is to get those victims paid.”

Eakman wrote a check for $4,000 that White planned to turn over to the court Tuesday.

Initially charged with 10 counts in February 2014, Eakman pleaded guilty in March to three counts of felony theft and one felony count of false business practices. Prosecutors dropped seven theft charges in exchange for his guilty plea.

Authorities said Eakman took customers' money but did not deliver on the headstones. He instead used the money at nightclubs, restaurants and to buy jewelry, investigators said.

Henderson, who eventually bought a headstone for her father's grave and honored him graveside with bagpipes and Scotch, said she is satisfied with his sentence.

“He's now going to be reminded of what he did for a very long time,” she said.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me