State orders cemetery to stop burials

Tucked between the expressway and the city of Combes lies a small cemetery facing a huge dilemma.

The Texas Banking Commissioner has ordered a cease and desist on the Harlingen Combes Memorial Cemetery on Sid Jones Road.

"They did not make deposits for an entire year," said Stephanie Newburg, Deputy Commissioner.

The Department of Banking says the administration of the cemetery violated a health and safety code by failing to deposit funds into the perpetual care trust fund as required and failed to be in satisfactory financial condition.

"It's not a large amount, it's only about $1,000 but that's a substantial amount for such a small cemetery, plus people were paying for that service and he was using the money for something else," said Newburg.

The director of the Harlingen Combes Memorial Cemetery Uvaldo Bravo just so happened to be on the grounds when Action 4 News showed up.

He refused to comment on camera and told us he had no idea there was a cease and desist order, but told us the Texas Banking Commissioner doesn't realize the money he's losing to keep the cemetery in good shape since he doesn't make much of a profit in that location.

Newburg says this cemetery's certificate of authority has also expired which means Bravo cannot conduct business there any longer other than maintaining the grounds.

As per the cease and desist, no more burials can be done except for those which plots were purchased as of May 7th of this year.

"They cannot make anymore sales," said Newburg.

We asked Bravo about the future of the cemetery and he said off camera that he didn't abandon it after Hurricane Dolly heavily damaged it in 2008 so he's not going to abandon it now and will appeal the order first thing Wednesday.

He says although not every penny was placed in the perpetual fund, the cemetery still got the maintenance families paid for when burying their loved ones.