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Grand Jury
Investigation of Theft of Body Parts
On October 4, 2007, a Philadelphia Grand Jury impaneled to investigate the theft and illegal sale of body parts taken from Philadelphia funeral homes released the following report.

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Funeral Directors and Tissue Harvesters Plead Guilty
The Grand Jury recommended criminal charges against five individuals, three Philadelphia funeral directors and two managers of Biomedical Tissue Services (BTS), a bogus tissue procurement company in New Jersey. All five - Louis Garzone, Gerald Garzone, James McCafferty, Michael Mastromarino, and Lee Cruceta - have pleaded guilty. Garzone Funeral Home, Inc. also pleaded guilty as a corporation to the theft of body parts from corpses sent to its funeral homes for burial and cremation.

Sentencing Scheduled: October 22, 2008
Former funeral directors Louis and Gerald Garzone are scheduled to be sentenced on October 22, 2008, along with Michael Mastromarino, the head of the corrupt tissue company BTS. James McCafferty and Lee Cruceta, who cooperated in the investigation, will be sentenced at a later date.

Victims and their families are welcome to attend the sentencing.

Victim Impact Statements

Victims are entitled to address the sentencing Judge regarding physical, emotional, and mental effects that the crimes have had on them. The victims in this case include family members of those whose bodies were desecrated in the Garzones' funeral homes and also individuals who have been implanted with tissue procured by BTS. Written statements describing the crimes' impact are welcome. In order to assure that the Judge has time to read and consider all written statements before sentencing, it would be helpful to submit them by October 15.

Written Victim Impact Statements can be mailed to:
Evangelia Manos, Assistant District Attorney
Philadelphia District Attorney's Office
Three South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107

More information on victim assistance can be found in our victim/witness services section.

Identification of Desecrated Bodies

Unfortunately, because the defendants falsified documents, prosecutors have been able to identify only 49 of the 244 bodies from which tissue was taken. Next of kin of those 49 have been notified already. While the District Attorney's Office cannot positively identify more victims, we are able to exclude some. Only bodies cremated at Liberty Crematory between February 2004 and the end of September 2005 were potential targets. If your loved one was cremated during that time period, you may contact Evangelia Manos (215-686-8738). We may be able to exclude a person based on their gender and date of death and thus provide some peace of mind.

How to determine whether you have been implanted with tissue from BTS

Tissue from BTS, which was improperly screened for disease and infection, has been implanted in thousands of medical and dental patients worldwide. It has been used for dental implants, skin grafts, bone grafts, and cartilage and tendon replacement. Emulsified bones have been used in the form of paste to fill other bones.

The District Attorney's Office does not have the records necessary to identify all those implanted worldwide with tissue from BTS. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recall of all BTS tissue in October 2005. In its recall, the FDA recommended that doctors, dentists, and hospitals notify patients implanted with BTS tissue. Many doctors did notify their patients and recommended that the patients be tested for infectious diseases. But the FDA did not require that patients be informed, and so many people are still concerned that they may unknowingly have received tainted tissue.

Tissue from BTS was implanted in patients beginning in mid 2002, and continuing until the tissue was recalled at the end of October 2005.

One way to find out if you have received tissue from BTS is to ask your doctor or dentist. If you were implanted with BTS tissue, your doctor should know based on the FDA's recall. Implanted tissue should be traceable back to the tissue procurer, in this case BTS.

Your doctor or dentist should also be able to provide you with the "lot number" of the tissue that you received. Information about specific recalled tissues can be found on the FDA's website. For a listing of recalled tissues and their website links please click here. The District Attorney's Office is providing these links in order to assist the public in identifying recalled tissue. It cannot, however, vouch for their accuracy or completeness.