Sat, Jun 14, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Former oral surgeon apologizes for using parts from corpses

AP , NEW YORK

The mastermind behind a multimillion-dollar scheme to loot hundreds of corpses — including that of British journalist and commentator Alistair Cooke — and sell their body parts apologized on Thursday to families of the victims and thousands of tissue recipients.

Michael Mastromarino, a former oral surgeon who owned Biomedical Tissue Services, told victims of the scheme he was sorry for the pain and grief he caused. The New Jersey company shipped bones, skin and tendons to tissue processors.

Mastromarino was in court for a sentencing hearing but the sentencing was postponed because the probation report wasn’t finished. He is to be sentenced later this month.

Victims called Mastromarino “greedy” and “heartless” and asked that he be sentenced to the maximum 54 years.

Stephanie Berardini of Denver, who received dental implants from a body that hadn’t been properly screened for disease, said the tissue and bone will “forever be a part of me.”

“The disgust factor is enormous,” she said. “I will never be the same because of his actions.”

Anthony Dumaine of Brooklyn, whose father’s body was plundered, questioned the sincerity of Mastromarino’s apology.

“I don’t feel like that was from his heart,” Dumaine said outside the courtroom.

In March, Mastromarino admitted he ran the macabre operation from 2001 to 2005. He pleaded guilty to charges of enterprise corruption, body stealing and reckless endangerment.

Three others who worked at Mastromarino’s medical firm were charged, as were funeral home directors in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The bodies were carved up without permission and were not medically screened. They were sold around the country for dental implants, knee and hip replacements and other procedures. About 10,000 people received tissue supplied by the company.

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