EYNON -- When a cemetery in Lackawanna County decided to build a mausoleum, it turned to a construction company run by the son of former cemetery board members.
Now just six years after it was built, that mausoleum is crumbling, and people who spent thousands of dollars to be interred there say they were ripped off.
Inside the chapel at St. Francis Cemetery in Eynon, the mausoleum vaults almost seem majestic, but upon a closer look, wooden wedges appear to hold up the granite markers. From the outside, the building seems to be falling apart.
"They didn't build this place like a mausoleum. They built it, they said, more like a garage," said Richard Roani of Jermyn.
Roani bought one of the 40 vaults for his wife Mary Ann the day after she died five years ago. He says she wanted to be interred above ground.
"I thought I was doing a good thing. We all did."
"We thought it was beautiful. We thought we were all set," said Mary Caviston of Eynon.
Caviston, Roani, and nearly a dozen others now wonder where their final resting place will be.
"All of a sudden, we were told we cannot be buried here because it's falling down," said Caviston.
Outside the mausoleum, granite chunks are falling on the driveway.
According to a lawsuit filed by the cemetery association, the crumbling mausoleum is the result of "design deficiencies, fraud, and defective (and) faulty materials."
People who bought vaults blame the builder, Sean Smargiassi of Scott Township.
"He did work on our home at one time. We thought he was a friend. We never thought he'd do this and walk away with no remorse whatsoever," Caviston said.
Paperwork shows Smargiassi was paid at least $190,000 in 2010 and 2011 to build the mausoleum that now may have to be torn down.
Newswatch 16 called the listed number on his construction company several times and even showed up at the address in Scott Township that is listed as Smargiassi Construction's address. No one was there, and our phone calls have not been returned.
"I can't imagine a man has a conscience to do this to people, never say he's sorry, never tries to come back and say, 'I'm going to try to rectify the mess I've made,'" said Caviston.
Caviston calls Smargiassi a con man, noting he was just honored for his community service and named the 2016 Man of the Year by the Carbondale Knights of Columbus.
"Man of the year?" Roani asked. "What can I say?"
Roani has his own problem. He wants his nearly $5,000 returned but says Smargiassi won't return his calls either. He wonders how he can honor his late wife when he cannot afford another vault or burial site.
"I really feel badly that I spent all this money for a place that was falling down."
The cemetery association and those who bought vaults at the mausoleum also blame the borough of Archbald for not properly inspecting the work during the building of the mausoleum. However, a judge ruled the borough cannot be sued, and the legal efforts by the two groups will now focus on Smargiassi Construction.