Friday, 01 Feb, 2008 Offbeat

Nurse Had Stolen 244 Body Parts of the Corpses


A man, who worked as nurse in Philadelphia, was accused of stealing 244 body parts of corpses to be used for transplantation.

Lee Cruceta, 35 year old nurse, was involved in corrupt organization, helping to cut body parts that were then trafficked for transplant market. The man pleaded guilty to conspiracy, abuse of corpse, theft of body parts and forgery. He may face the sentence of 6 and a half to 20 years for his crimes. As the case involved other people from this organization, Cruceta is expected to testify against them before he can be sentenced.

The nurse also admitted to taking part in the same crimes in New York. Several New York funeral directors had already pleaded guilty. The ringleader Michael Mastromarino, 44, who was involved in this case, purchased the corpses from funeral directors and sold their body parts to tissue banks, where they were resold to hospitals. Mr. Mastromarino earned from $6 million to $12 million since 2001.

Cruceta claimed that when he started working with Mastromarino, he was convinced that his company Biomedical Tissue Services was legitimate. His wife Theresa Cruceta, who has three children, told that she did not suspect anything wrong. She had lost her job in hospital administration in New York City after the news.

More than 10,000 unsuspected patients were transplanted tissue during surgeries supplied by impostor Biomedical Tissue Services.

It was also found that group of people forged death certificates to conceal such diseases as cancer or AIDS and corrected the age of the corpses to sell them.

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