A very grim get-rich-quick scheme

When it comes to raising some quick cash, some ingenious people are really willing to go the extra mile. Such is the case of two New Jersey funeral directors who have lost their mortician licenses and face some serious fines and prison time based upon their participation in a body-parts-for-sale enterprise. NorthJersey.com reported that three ghouls for hire did, in fact ,harvest and sell numerous body parts to medical companies. According to the report, these illegal acts of excision and dispersal were accomplished without the knowledge of family members and without the consent of the decedents.


According to the report, undertakers Stephen K. Finley of Newark, New Jersey and Robert J. Maitner, Jr. of Belleville, New Jersey participated in a tissue marketing scheme which was headed by Michael Mastromarino. The operation spanned a period of four years from 2001 to 2005. The body parts involved included skin, bone, tendons, ligaments and cardiac valves, which were sold for use in dental implants, knee and hip replacements and other procedures. The report indicates that as many as 1,600 cadavers were harvested by just one member of the scalpel-happy trio. The report also states that the harvested tissues may have subsequently been used to accomplish as many as 10,000 individual medical procedures.

While there is probably nothing wrong with reusing human body components after the original owner is done with them, there is a certain level of respect which must be maintained when dealing with the dearly departed. Not to mention the fact that body stealing can result in some very stiff penalties. According to NorthJersey.com, "Mastromarino...is serving an 18- to 54-year prison term. He also plead to similar charges in Pennsylvania and was sentenced to 25 to 58 years in prison, to run concurrently."

Stealing someone's heart valves for personal gain just isn't an acceptable practice. Remember, you should always ask the owner first if you want to borrow their leg bone for a while. Always ask if a person is done with their tendons before you take any of them. Finally, in the absence of informed verbal consent, there is one more avenue you could utilize in your efforts to update your coveted body tissue supply: It might be advisable to check if your selected dissection subject decided to
carry a donor card.

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