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Suit alleges desecration at Glendale cemetery

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A Glendale family is suing a neighborhood cemetery after discovering part of a loved one's remains that had resurfaced on top of his grave following a process to hold his headstone in place, the family's attorney said.

Narcisa Arevalo, 49, and her two children paid a visit Friday to the grave of Jorge Vera, Arevalo's son, at Cypress Hills Cemetery, where they discovered the dead man's hat and a piece of his skull sitting on top of the site, attorney Michael Barasch said.

Vera, 27, had died of cancer on Dec. 30, 2006, and was buried four days later at the cemetery, split between Glendale and Brooklyn.

Barasch said the family has since filed a suit in Brooklyn Supreme Court against the cemetery for the trauma caused by seeing part of Vera's remains on the grave site. Under state law, it is illegal to desecrate a corpse, he said.

"The family is devastated," he said. "The mother keeps screaming to me, 'My son is not resting in peace.' She is a very religious woman."

The cemetery could not be reached for comment.

Arevalo said she did not want to comment on the suit.

Arevalo's 14-year-old daughter, Joanne, discovered the remains at the site during Friday's visit, said Barasch. She spotted the hat of Vera's favorite soccer team, the Barcelona Sporting Club of Ecuador, on the site, he said.

Arevalo picked up the hat, which Vera was wearing at the time of his burial, and found a piece of Vera's skull inside, Barasch said.

Workers used a corkscrew-shaped drill to dig into the ground during the process of holding Vera's headstone in place, Barasch said. But they cut too deep into the ground, boring through the casket and severing part of Vera's skull, he said.

"The machine had literally scalped him," Barasch said.

The family had Vera's body disinterred and cremated last weekend, Barasch said, but continues to receive bills for more than $5,000 from the cemetery for disinterring the body, he said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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