Guilty plea in body parts scheme

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - August 29, 2008

Michael Mastromarino, 44, of Fort Lee, N.J., admitted to hundreds of counts of abusing corpses, forgery, theft and other allegations stemming from an operation authorities say he ran with three Philadelphia funeral directors.

Mastromarino ran the macabre operation from 2001 to 2005. He previously pleaded guilty in New York, where he was sentenced to 18 to 54 years in prison.

The bodies, including that of "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke, 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 Mastromarino's company.

One of the Philadelphia funeral directors, James McCafferty, pleaded guilty to his role in the body parts scandal earlier this month. The other two - brothers Gerald and Louis Garzone - are scheduled to go to trial Tuesday.

Mastromarino will testify against the Garzones if asked, said his attorney, A. Charles Peruto Jr.

Mastromarino has no sentencing agreement with Philadelphia authorities and faces a maximum of life in prison and more than $18 million in fines. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22 and is seeking to have any Pennsylvania prison sentence run concurrent to his New York punishment.

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