Body Snatcher Ringleader Poised to Plead Guilty
If you’re like most people, you’re probably at least a little afraid of dying. Whether that fear is caused by cosmic questions, religious worries or simply a love of life, it’s shared by most human beings. Those who were unlucky enough to pass through the hands of Michael Mastromarino postmortem, though, should have feared death for a completely different reason.
Mastromarino, 44, once an oral surgeon in New York, is prepared to plead guilty to charges of body stealing, opening graves, unlawful dissection and forgery, according to reports from the Associated Press.
Apparently, Mastromarino worked with three other men (among them a mortician) in his ghastly body parts ring. The group allegedly carved tissue, tendon and bone from corpses and sold the goods to processors, who then distributed the flesh to doctors and dentists in the United States and Canada.
So how did an oral surgeon get into this line of work? Sources indicate that Mastromarino was also the owner of the New Jersey company Biomedical Tissue Services (BTS), a tissue processor which shipped the body parts to other companies around the country.
The guilty plea, which is expected to be entered January 22nd, could earn Mastromarino 18-54 years behind bars. And it could mean serious consequences for the organizations that purchased tissue from raided corpses.
Reports note that Mastromarino’s criminal defense plea deal is set to include names of the processing companies that bought the stolen goods, which are currently supposed to be Regeneration Technologies Inc., LifeCell Corporation, Tutogen Medical Inc. (public companies), as well as Lost Mountain Tissue Bank and the Blood & Tissue Center of Central Texas (non-profits).
Several lawsuits have already been brought against these companies, according to sources. Evidently, some of the more than 10,000 recipients of Mastromarino’s corpse tissues found out about the ill-gotten nature of their new parts.
Because of worries about improper screening and sterilization, the recipients of the pilfered body part could be at risk for a variety of infectious diseases, including the AIDS virus.
The tissues, which were reportedly used for everything from dental implants to disk replacements to knee surgeries, netted as much as $7,000 each for Mastromarino and his gang of body snatchers. Sources note that doctors performing surgeries with the tissues in question had no way of knowing that they were operating with stolen goods.
In an interesting side note, sources have reported that one of the bodies raided by Mastromarino and his criminal cronies was that of Alistair Cooke, the late host of “Masterpiece Theatre.” Apparently, Cooke’s arms, legs and pelvis were used, among other tissues.