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Archive for Friday, March 10, 2006

Funeral home targeted in body parts probe

March 10, 2006

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— A family-owned funeral home may have taken cash kickbacks to look the other way when a body-parts ring plundered the corpses of "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke and other people, according to two law enforcement officials close to the case.

The officials said in recent interviews that investigators were targeting New York Mortuary Service Inc., the Manhattan funeral parlor that handled Cooke's body after he died in 2004. They suspect the business conspired with the alleged ringleader - a former oral surgeon named Michael Mastromarino - by alerting him whenever "they had a body that they could cut up without anyone knowing," one official said.

The arrangement allowed the ring to take tissue from people who had not given consent or were too old or too sick to donate, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is still under investigation.

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