Michael Mastromarino, the guy who stole and sold the remains of Alistair Cooke (and a thousand other people), was indicted last year. Now the funeral directors who granted Mastromarino access to the dead are going to court:
Three funeral home directors and four former employees of a biomedical supply company secretly removed skin, bone and other body parts from dozens of corpses awaiting cremation at Rochester funeral homes, prosecutors said Thursday.
An indictment unsealed Thursday charges the seven with body stealing, unlawful dissection and other counts. The most serious charges carry maximum 20-year prison sentences.
"Put yourself in the position of one of the family members," said Monroe County District Attorney Michael Green.
Well, we know how the families feel; that's boring. Instead, put yourself in the position of a funeral director with access to any number of about-to-be-cremated bodies. A company called Biomedical Tissue Services approaches you and requests access to remains just before they're placed in the cremator. The families will never know the difference when they get the box of ashes; they can't see the missing femurs or cerebral tissue. The parts will be sold to some biotech company that will transform the remains into a useful medical technology, or to some medical device company that will use the remains to train surgeons. Nobody gets hurt, and some child burn victim–we'll call him Timmy–will get a state-of-the-art skin graft. Do it for science! For Timmy! And, oh yeah, there's that $1000 kickback.
These men should go to jail, but given the rising value of cadaveric tissue and concurrent prohibitions on its trade, black markets in remains seem inevitable. It would surely help if we could all stop pretending that remains are priceless. Or worthless.
More on markets and Mastromarino here.