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Page last updated at 18:49 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 19:49 UK

US body snatch mastermind jailed

Michael Mastromarino
Mastromarino's group stole from 1,000 corpses over a four-year period

The US dentist who masterminded thefts from hundreds of human corpses from funeral homes will serve between 18 and 54 years in jail, a judge has ruled.

Michael Mastromarino's ring stole parts from more than 1,000 bodies, including that of BBC presenter Alistair Cooke.

The group then sold the parts to doctors who transplanted them into patients in a scam worth $4.6m (2.3m).

Mastromarino, 44, had pleaded guilty to body stealing, reckless endangerment and enterprise corruption in March.

The organs, extracted from bodies which had not been medically screened, were stolen from funeral homes in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania between 2001 and 2005.

They were sold around the country for 10,000 surgical procedures including knee and hip replacements, as well as dental implants.

'May God have mercy'

Speaking in court earlier this month Mastromarino, who ran the company Biomedical Tissue Services, had apologised to relatives of the dead for the pain he caused them.

"I am truly sorry for the pain that I have caused," he said. "May God have mercy on my soul."

Friday's sentence was passed in New York State's supreme court in Brooklyn.

One of Mastromarino's co-defendants has been convicted in the case, another has pleaded guilty and a third is awaiting trial.



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