This is rather disturbing:
The chief “cutter” in the national body-parts scandal – in charge of removing the often-diseased tissue of 244 late Philadelphians – is trying to cooperate with authorities, but “they don’t believe him,” his attorney said last night.
About 2 p.m. yesterday, New York attorney George Vomvolakis said he and his client, Lee Cruceta, 34, of Monroe, N.Y., talked with Assistant District Attorney Bruce Sagel and detectives for two hours, before Cruceta was processed by police.
“We’re still talking to the prosecutor and trying to cooperate, but they don’t believe him,” said Vomvolakis. “I’ve had two other sessions like this in the past. I was hoping that would prevent an arrest.”
Vomvolakis described the conversations as “informational.”
Cruceta surrendered shortly after his ex-boss, Michael Mastromarino, 44, of Fort Lee, N.J., the reputed ringleader of the body-parts scandal and the owner of the now-closed Biomedical Tissue Services, in Fort Lee.
In 2004, Mastromarino arranged to buy tissue from three Philadelphia funeral-home operators who supplied the 244 corpses – without survivors’ consent – during an 18-month period, a grand jury found last Thursday. BTS paid the operators $245,995.
BTS then sold the tissue to five companies that processed it for hospitals, where surgeons unwittingly used it for implants.
Yesterday, Mastromarino appeared “resigned” to the charges, while Cruceta, described as BTS team leader of “cutters,” looked “shook up” when each showed up separately to face charges, according to the DA’s office.
I distinctly remember watching an episode of Bones in which this was the case. Not sure whether the show was based on this story or if it was just a coincidence.
I think I can speak for many here when I say, “eww!”
Sounds like what happened to Alistair Cooke’s body.
Cruceta is an excellent name for a guy who made a living snipping pieces and parts from corpses.
I heard about this case a few years ago. One of the many joys of working in a healthcare related industry is you hear shit you don’t want to hear way before the general public gets to hear about it. Thanks for renewing my resolve to never get sick again.
I’m glad someone else watches ‘Bones”…I like that show alot.
This is so creepy and disgusting.
I grew up with Alister Cooke..I had no idea that happened.
It’s shit like this that suggests there’s a need for federal and state regulators to enforce whatever minimal regulations govern the human body parts industry. Under the Bush administration, enforcement was transferred from government agencies to the industries themselves. But unlike the Enron and mortgage debacles that just robbed citizens of their financial assets, a lack of enforcement within the human body parts industry stands to rob citizens of their very lives. The next time you hear a politician wax eloquently on the advantages of privatization, remember the swindles perpetrated by people like Ken Lay (Enron), Michael Milken (Drexel), Gary Winnick (Global Crossing), Dennis Kozlowski (Tyco International), John Rigas (Adelphia). Bush’s six year experiment in allowing industry to police itself is a failure. There’s a role for government in providing the big stick deterrence behind any necessary regulations.
I wouldn’t be surprised. Now the question is, did those parts in real life give diseases to the transplant receivers?
So, remove all my blood and/or collapse all my organs and fill me with embalming fluid so I can be pretty and not smell funny to anyone who wants to look at me to make sure I’m dead.
But, by no means use any of my organs or tissue to save anyone else’s life.
So very vain, so very selfish, so very American.
Thank god these criminals are off the street.
i heard that the story on “bones” was indirectly taken from the real life situation you read of now.
the people involved in the “BTS” scandal were not healthy donors. in fact many of them had bone (or other) cancer. many of them had HIV, AIDS, HEP B, or syphilus. that and the fact that most of them were over donor age!
my partner received two pieces of bone which turned out to have come from BTS. now we have to sit and wonder whether or not she will turn up with a disease that might have come from her “non-donor”. she had alot of problems after her spinal surgery that could not be explained, including a second surgery to relieve pain that was worse than before. now she has developed cancer… go figure…
if you are interested in her story, go to our website… http://spaces.msn.com/biomedicaltissueservices/ or you can e-mail me directly at [email protected] and i would be glad to answer any and all questions. be sure to put “BTS” in the subject line so i answer it quickly.
i am sure that if these people could have donated body parts, they would have done so. they were just too aged and or diseased. we were told that some of them were chronic drug users/abusers also, i am not sure how bad it hurts to need a transplant, but i think i could wait if all that was available was bones that could be diseases, weak or brittle.
we pray for the recipients every day and hope that at least justice will come quickly. healing takes time, even emotional healing. at least a couple of these men are in jail… except nicelli… apparently he is still in a coma… does anybody know???
I worked with Lee Cruceta at Winthrop Hospital in Mineola. He was professional, kind, and loved being a nurse. He was a well regarded member of the OR team. He did work for New York Organ Donor Network, doing the same work he did for BTS. It is so sad that he was sucked into this. It does, however highlight the bigger issues at hand; that everybody involved in tissue recovery makes tons of money, but not the actual family involved. I cannot help but feel that since many of these people were to be cremated, the families could not have very strong feelings about the destruction of the body after death. Had they been offered the money, versus the funeral home directors, I wonder how many would have consented to let the now unused body of their loved ones go on to help others. As an OR nurse myself, I cannot tell you how many times we saw people die or suffer permanent injury because tissue was not available. And truth be told, many people that we consider high risk are still used in donations. Their blood is screened, and even if they are found to be infected, the tissue is useful in research. Bone is completely sterilized before use, and all biological components are removed. I am not defending what they have done, but I think what this underscores is the need to revamp the current laws that govern post-humous donations. I would also like to add that when I die, if anybody needs anything, please take it.