BRENTWOOD, N.H. (AP) – The owner of a shuttered Seabrook crematorium was sentenced Thursday to 1 to 3 years in prison and ordered to pay $240,000 in restitution on tax-evasion charges.

Derek Wallace of Salisbury, Mass., pleaded guilty last year to the charges. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed five other criminal counts that alleged Wallace accepted money for illegal cremations at Bayview Crematory.

Others, including Wallace’s mother and stepfather, have already been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the crematorium raid.

Wallace’s wife, Kristin Wallace, spoke on his behalf in court Thursday, describing him as a good father who performed charitable work for his community. She accused the county attorney’s office of sensationalizing the story and asked Judge Tina Nadeau to “allow justice to overcome politics.”

“He destroyed our family to save his political reputation,” she said of County Attorney Jim Reams.

Three people whose family members were cremated at Bayview made emotional statements to the judge.

“The agony you’ve put your victims through will never be repaired,” Jane McCarthy said.

“Are the ashes we received those of our mother? I doubt you know or even care,” said Joy Cahill.

Reams said Wallace was the last criminal defendant involving Bayview.

Now that all cases are closed, he hopes to have 50 sets of remains returned to their families.

Authorities searching Bayview Crematory in February 2005 found records in disarray, a dozen sets of remains without identification, two bodies in the same oven and a decomposing body in a broken refrigeration unit. Those discoveries – and revelations about the lack of regulation of New Hampshire crematories – prompted lawmakers to pass stricter rules on licensing and inspection.

AP-ES-02-28-08 1825EST

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