An Upper Darby supplier of cemetery markers took thousands of dollars from consumers who lost loved ones but failed to produce headstones on time — if ever — according to a new lawsuit by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
The complaint accuses 1843 LLC, also known as Lifestone by Stefan, of violating the state’s consumer protection law. It asks a judge to bar the company and its operators from selling cemetery markers in Pennsylvania again, and seeks unspecified restitution and fines. The firm’s operators — Gregory Stefan Sr., Gregory Stefan Jr., and Gerard Stefan — are also named as defendants.
Phone calls and emails sent Tuesday to the Stefans, their businesses, and attorneys went unanswered.
According to the suit, the Stefans would call Pennsylvanians who had recently lost loved ones and claim they were the preferred or affiliated headstone maker for a cemetery. After receiving such a call, one Doylestown consumer paid a $4,400 deposit for a memorial, only to later learn that cemetery officials had never heard of Stefan Jr. or his company. The customer was able to get a refund after sending the business a certified letter.
Others weren’t so lucky. A consumer from Elkins Park ordered a memorial in June 2018 and paid $3,112, according to the lawsuit filed in Delaware County Common Pleas Court. The Stefans were supposed to complete the marker later that year, but the memorial still hasn’t been delivered.
Headstone businesses associated with the Stefans have a history of complaints. Since 2015, local news outlets have reported that consumers had trouble getting headstones they paid for. The Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit that grades businesses on trustworthiness, gave Lifestone by Stefan an “F.”
The state attorney general sued Stefan Sr. and two different businesses in 2015 and similarly accused them of charging consumers for headstones that were delivered late or never, and for not paying full refunds. That case ended in a settlement and court order, but Attorney General Josh Shapiro accused Stefan Sr. of violating the terms of that agreement last year. That resulted in a judgment for more than $300,000 and an injunction that barred Stefan Sr. from owning, managing, or having any significant involvement in a business that provides or engraves headstones for consumers.
But before that January injunction, Stefan and his sons established a new business under the name 1843 LLC, according to the attorney general. The latest complaint, filed Aug. 11, claims the new business engaged in similar illegal business practices.
“We will continue to stand up for Pennsylvanians affected by this business and will not rest until we get them their money back,” Shapiro said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is criminally prosecuting Stefan Jr. “for actions related to the purchase by a complaining witness of a gravestone,” according to spokesperson Jane Roh. Stefan Jr. is accused of theft by deception and deceptive business practices, among other charges, according to court records. The Chester County District Attorney’s Office has filed similar charges against him for allegedly failing to deliver a headstone to a paying customer.
The Stefans and 1843 LLC have used other business aliases, including: Colonial Memorials, Stefan Memorial Group, The Memorial Co., Gallagher Memorials, Alessi Memorials, 1843 Memorials/Cartledge, and 1843 New Britain/Quakertown Memorials. The Attorney General’s Office is asking Pennsylvanians who have been affected by these companies to submit a complaint.