WILKES-BARRE – Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough said Wednesday he wants Robert Krostag to think while serving his six-to-12-year prison sentence about the 500-plus victims he affected by taking bronze vases from three area cemeteries.
“You stole from the dead,” Vough said after sentencing Krostag, 46, on related and unrelated charges.
Krostag said all the incidents, including the theft of railroad plates, radiators, copper piping and a hot water heater, stem from his use of heroin. “I am really sorry. I feel really bad for all the victims,” Krostag said, adding the crimes would never have happened if he wasn’t addicted.
Krostag must pay more than $121,571 in restitution, including $88,704 to the Fern Knoll Cemetery from which many of the bronze vases were taken. He previously pleaded guilty to the charges.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Sowinski said Wednesday each bronze vase was purchased for $400 by family members of the deceased and he had received phone calls from funeral homes and family members who were “very disturbed” with Krostag’s actions.
“These were thefts from the dead,” Sowinski said while requesting a prison sentence for Krostag. “I think that speaks for itself.”
Krostag’s attorney, Ferris Webby, said it isn’t normal for a person to go into a cemetery and remove a large amount of grave markers. His client has underlying issues, he said.
Krostag has been to a rehabilitation center twice, has had a family member die recently and his mother become very ill, Webby said, noting Krostag also suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts. “He needs to be punished … ,” Webby said. “But he needs help, too.”
Webby also said his client faces charges in Lackawanna County – three counts of receiving stolen property.
Krostag stole bronze vases from Memorial Shrine Cemetery in Franklin Township a number of times during 2012 and from Chapel Lawn Cemetery and Fern Knoll Burial Park in Dallas Township from July to October.
On April 11, police said, Krostag stole radiators from a vacant house on Powell Street, and in May he took 48 metal plates from the Canadian Pacific Railroad in Plains Township.
Police also charged Krostag with taking copper piping and a hot water heater from a vacant home in Plains Township on April 25.