Body snatcher prevention

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As one of the “cutters” in Brooklyn’s body-snatching scam awaits his sentence, a local elected official has spearheaded changes to make sure that the ghoulish practice isn’t repeated anytime soon.

State Senator Martin Golden said that the Senate approved a bill last week that would prohibit the sale of body parts in New York.

Those accused of selling body parts could be charged with a Class E felony, the bill states.

Golden said that the need for the bill, which he helped sponsor, was sparked by the arrest of four men accused of looting the recently deceased for body parts that they sold to hospitals and clinics for huge profits.

Investigators said that the fearsome foursome received hundreds of bodies from funeral homes throughout the city and remove organs, bones and tissue. The harvested organs were then sold to area hospitals through biomedical company owned by the crew’s ringleader, Michael Mastromarino.

Police said that after Mastromarino and his crew removed the body parts, they would allegedly re-stitch the corpses up, replacing stolen bones and organs with their bloodied aprons and PVC piping to make it appear that the bodies hadn’t been tampered with before bringing them back to funeral homes for services.

All of this was done without the consent of the deceased’s family, officials from the Kings County District Attorney’s office said.

Dozens of funeral directors throughout the city implicated in Mastromarino’s scam pled guilty for handing the bodies over to his crew before the embalming process began.

Mastromarino reportedly paid funeral directors $1000 a body, prosecutors said.

Since body parts can only be donated with expressed, written consent, Mastromarino forged death certificates, donor requests and other documents, making it appear that it was the decedent’s wish to have their organs and tissues harvested after their passing.

He also altered the cause of death to make the harvested body parts more desirable; since body parts belonging to those who died of cancer and other diseases shouldn’t be harvested and used for replacements and grafts.

Mastromarino pled guilty for spearheading the scam, officials said. In return, he was sentenced to 54 years in prison.

Christopher Aldorasi, one of Mastromarino’s henchmen who was accused of looting dozens of bodies for bone and tissue, was recently convicted of enterprise corruption and other charges. He is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in prison on May 28, officials said.

“Amid scandals involving the illegal buying, selling and distribution of human tissue by funeral homes and licensed biomedical companies, deficiencies in the current law have become increasingly apparent,” Golden said this week. “New York’s families have been forced to suffer even greater hardship at the most difficult of times because of this unconscionable practice.”

“Removing tissue, skin, organs and bones from bodies before embalming without the permission of the deceased’s family, and then selling the tissue illegally, must not continue to go on here in New York,” he said, adding that the new legislation “will reduce the possibility of such an atrocity from ever happening again.”

This is the second time that the body selling bill has been approved by the Senate. A similar bill was approved, yet died in the Assembly late last year.

Updated 3:46 pm, October 19, 2011
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