Led scheme to sell pieces for millions
Associated Press NEW YORK - The mastermind of a scheme to plunder corpses from funeral homes in the Northeast and sell them for millions of dollars pleaded guilty yesterday in a deal that could send him to prison for more than five decades.
Michael Mastromarino, a 44-year-old former oral surgeon, confessed to the judge that he carried out the scheme from 2001 to 2005. He will face 18 to 54 years and will have to forfeit $4.68 million. He pleaded guilty to 14 counts that include enterprise corruption, body stealing, and reckless endangerment.
The plea was made more than two years after the gruesome scandal broke, with evidence that corpses were being hacked up without permission or proper screening for diseases and sold for dental implants, knee and hip replacements, and other procedures around the country.
The looted bodies included that of "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke.
"What he did was wrong," his defense lawyer, Mario Galluci, said outside court. "I feel horrible for the victims in this case. There is no excuse for what he did."
Mastromarino will also plead guilty to related charges in Philadelphia, his lawyer said yesterday.