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Bad medicine

Funeral home directors conspired to steal body parts from cadavers, then sell to biomedical supply companies

Friday, October 20, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: bad medicine, body parts, funeral homes


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(NewsTarget) Seven funeral home directors in the New York area who have been linked to a scheme to steal parts from corpses and sell them for transplants have pleaded guilty to undisclosed charges in the case.

In Brooklyn, New York, District Attorney Charles Hynes announced that a grand jury voted to bring new indictments in these cases, adding to the counts allegations involving funeral homes in New York City and Rochester. Hynes went on to say the directors had more involvement than was originally uncovered: "It is clear that many more funeral home directors were involved in this enterprise."

Seven unidentified funeral directors have agreed to cooperate in the ongoing investigation, which centers around what prosecutors are describing as "an enterprise to steal bone and tissue from funeral home cadavers" which directors then sold to biomedical supply companies for profit.

Although the funeral home directors entered their pleas in closed courtrooms, all seven names were withheld. Attorneys did say that one of the directors was the director of a funeral home that took body parts from the body of late "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke.

A former doctor named Michael Mastromarino and three other men have been accused of secretly removing skin, bone and other transplantable parts from hundreds of bodies without the permission of families.

In a related twist, Mastromarino -- who owns Biomedical Tissue Services of Fort Lee, N.J. -- supposedly bilked millions of illegal profits by selling the stolen tissue to biomedical companies that supply material for medical procedures, such as dental implants and hip replacements.

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