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Dentist behind body parts ring gets 18-54 years

A New Jersey dentist behind a scheme to steal body parts from corpses was sentenced on Friday to a minimum of 18 years and a maximum of 54 years in prison.
/ Source: Reuters

A New Jersey dentist behind a scheme to steal body parts from corpses, including that of British journalist Alistair Cooke, was sentenced on Friday to a minimum of 18 years and a maximum of 54 years in prison.

Michael Mastromarino, 44, in March admitted to leading a $4.6 million operation that stole body parts from funeral homes in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The ring dismembered more than 1,000 cadavers in unsanitary conditions, and sold them to doctors who transplanted them into patients.

"I am sorry for the emotional pain I have caused," Mastromarino told the court, repeating an apology he made to victims and relatives of the dead earlier this month.

State Supreme Court Judge John Walsh made no comment as he sentenced Mastromarino, who had pleaded guilty to body stealing, reckless endangerment and enterprise corruption.

"His sick, disgusting and appalling actions all in the name of greed have devastated my family," Dayna Ryan, 44, told the court.

Ryan contracted Hepatitis B when she was a recipient of stolen body parts during a lower spine operation.

As part of the scheme, a team of so-called cutters removed bones, skin and tendons in an unsanitary embalming room, prosecutors said.

"He fully recognized the gravity of what he has done," Mastromarino's lawyer Mario Gallucci said outside court. "He cut some corners and that is why he is here today."

There are three co-defendants. One pleaded guilty, another was convicted at trial and the third is awaiting trial.

Cooke, the former newspaper foreign correspondent and host of the PBS television show "Masterpiece Theatre" and BBC's "Letter from America," died in 2004 at age 95 in New York.