Interim COO Calms Down Public and Leads to Confirmed Plan

Burr Oak Cemetary

Alsip, Illinois

Challenge

Historic African American Cemetery with Chicago media and government outrage over allegations of grave desecration. $3 million annual sales. $4 million debt.


  • Cemetery was shut down by local and state government after the discovery of exposed human remains and allegations of financial malfeasance. Four individuals accused of grave desecration and funds theft.
  • Cemetery had local and state government investigations and 60 class action lawsuits.
  • Company caught in Public Relations circus with media and government officials given political issues.
  • Cemetery put into a Receivership which was converted to a Chapter 11 with over 60 class action lawsuits.

Solution

  • MorrisAnderson was appointed by the Bankruptcy Court to serve as Chief Operating Officer (COO) with the mission to independently correct numerous safety and structural issues at the Cemetery, and to develop and implement a plan to reopen the Cemetery for burials and visitation by loved ones of the deceased.
  • MorrisAnderson met with all parties to understand everyone’s needs and issues and then developed a mutually acceptable plan to correct previous operating and financial control deficiencies, and worked with the Alsip Police, Cook County Sheriff, Illinois State Comptroller, Illinois Attorney General, and the former Receiver to reopen the Cemetery.

Results

  • The Cemetery was reopened to the public and resumed burials approximately 60 days after MorrisAnderson took over, and the grandstanding of media and government officials was curtailed.
  • A settlement with the Cemetery’s insurance companies, through a confirmed plan of reorganization, provided the funds for the future maintenance of the cemetery and a pro rata payment of settlement claims to class action plaintiffs.

Howard R. Korenthal

Howard R. Korenthal is a Principal and Chief Operating Officer at MorrisAnderson. He has over 30 years of experience working with financially distressed and underperforming companies, serving in senior management, interim management and consulting roles. Howard began his career with the Big Eight accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand in Chicago where, as an audit… Read More