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    Cemetery Thieves Indicted

    A Jefferson County Grand Jury has indicted four men for stealing decorative brass vases from cemeteries and selling them at recycling centers for cash. Between July and November 2010 the men are alleged to have stolen brass vases designed to hold gravesite flowers and brass sprinkler parts from cemetaries in Jefferson County, Adams County and Denver.

    Michael Dean Gonser, 43; Donald Richard Tebeau, 46; Jason Lee Seader, 37; and Juan Gallegos, 27, have been indicted on one or more felony counts of Theft Receiving and Conspiracy to Commit Theft Receiving.

    Gonser, Tebeau and Seader are believed to have known each other and worked together to steal the brass items, break or cut them into smaller less recognizable pieces, and then sell them for cash.

    During the course of the investigation, Gallegos came to the attention of investigators. He is alleged to have sold 208 brass vases for cash.

    Four cemeteries in Jefferson County are believed to have been victimized: Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Olinger Crown Hill Cemetery, the Golden Cemetery and the Arvada Cemetery.

    Mt. Olivet Cemetery reported that in summer and early fall of 2010, 578 sprinkler heads were stolen from their property at a value of over $122,695.
    The number of stolen vases is at least 600, but investigators say this is a conservative estimate. Cemeteries don’t own the vases so any loss would have to be reported by family of the deceased who may not frequently visit the gravesites.

    The men are alleged to have used at least six different recycling centers. According to the indictment, Gonser sold stolen brass to one of the recycling centers, Sims Metal Management in Denver, four times between August and October 2010. He is alleged to have sold 536 pounds of vase pieces. The value of these brass pieces is estimated to be $14,931.

    Each brass vase has a retail value of $200-$500. The men are alleged to have received approximately $20 for each vase they recycled.

    Tebeau was arrested on March 22. His next court appearance is April 11. Warrants have been issued for the arrests of Michael Gonser, Jason Seader and Juan Gallegos.

    Pam Russell
    DA Public Information

    March 25, 2011

    Last Updated: 6-26-2013
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