updated 1/15/2008 7:38:40 PM ET 2008-01-16T00:38:40

A former dentist has agreed to plead guilty to charges he ran a body-parts ring that desecrated corpses and sold body parts for transplants.

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Attorney Mario Gallucci said Michael Mastromarino "was facing a daunting battle and he sees this as his best opportunity to accept responsibility and move on."

Mastromarino, a Brooklyn mortician and two so-called "cutters" were charged in 2006 with body stealing, opening graves, unlawful dissection and forgery. Since then, seven funeral directors have pleaded guilty to undisclosed charges and agreed to cooperate, as has one of the cutters.

Mastromarino, who is behind bars, will enter the guilty plea on January 22nd and faces 18 to 54 years in prison. He was owner of Biomedical Tissue Services of Fort Lee, New Jersey.

As part of the deal, Mastromarino will cooperate with investigators into possible misconduct by tissue processors that bought the stolen parts. Gallucci said his client expects to plead guilty in Philadelphia as well.

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