Guilty plea in body parts case

August 13, 2008 6:41:06 PM PDT
A funeral director who authorities said conspired to illegally harvest body parts from corpses pleaded guilty Wednesday to 248 felonies related to the case.

James McCafferty, 38, of Philadelphia, and others were accused by a grand jury of letting a group of "cutters" hack up bodies - without the families' knowledge or permission - for $1,000 per corpse. The parts, often diseased, were then sold to hospitals, authorities said.

McCafferty pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy, theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking.

He may be asked to testify against his co-defendants as part of the plea agreement, assistant district attorney Evangelia Manos said Wednesday.

Authorities say Michael Mastromarino, of Biomedical Tissue Services in New Jersey, ran the scheme with funeral homes in New York and Philadelphia. In New York, he has pleaded guilty to 14 counts that include enterprise corruption, body stealing and reckless endangerment.

Mastromarino and brothers Louis and Gerald Garzone, who worked with McCafferty at the Garzone Funeral Home in Philadelphia, still face trial in Pennsylvania next month.

Another defendant, Lee Cruceta, a former nurse who allegedly ran the cutting crew, pleaded guilty earlier this year.

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