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Swapping bones with PVC tubing

As the mastermind of the headline-grabbing body-snatching case was officially carted off to prison this week, the ugliness of his team’s misdeeds was being disclosed in gruesome detail inside a Brooklyn criminal courtroom. Christopher Aldorasi, 36, is the first of the ghoulish quartet to demand a trial, although his dirty, blood-smeared laundry won’t be aired in front of a jury of his peers. Rather, Justice Albert Tomei will be evaluating weather his crime warrants an eight-and-a-third to 25-year stint in prison. Prosecutors identified Aldorasi as one of the alleged “cutters” who helped dentist turned body-harvesting mogul Michael Mastromarino carve up and remove organs, bones and tissue from hundreds of bodies without the consent of the deceased or their families. The harvested organs would sell to area hospitals through his biomedical company. Mastromarino, who literally grew rich on the corpses of the dearly departed – whether they wished to have their organs donated or not – has hammered out a plea arrangement with the Kings County District Attorney’s office that will land him 18 to 54 years in prison. After repeated delays, Mastromarino was set to be sentenced to prison this Tuesday. Living up to his end of the arrangement, Mastromarino gave prosecutors an in-depth look at the body harvesting business. The DA’s office plans to hand over the information they’ve accumulated to state legislators so they can create stricter laws regarding the collection, transplant and sale of harvested tissue and organs, they said. Mastromarino, Aldorasi, Lee Cruceta and Joseph Nicelli were charged with intercepting thousands of corpses before their funeral services began. After removing the body parts, they would allegedly re-stitch the corpses up, replacing the stolen bones and organs with their bloodied rags, aprons and PVC piping to make it appear that the bodies hadn’t been tampered with. Since body parts can only be donated with expressed, written consent, Mastromarino forged death certificates, donor requests and other documents, making it appear that it was the decedent’s wish to have their organs and tissues harvested after their passing. He also altered death certificates of those who died of cancer and other deadly ailments to make it appear that they perished from heart failure or old age so he could sell their diseased body parts. Most of the bodies were looted in a hidden room inside the now defunct Daniel George Funeral Home on Bath Avenue in Bath Beach, investigators said. Dozens of funeral directors throughout the city implicated in Mastromarino’s scam have already pled guilty for handing the bodies over to his crew before the embalming process began. Mastromarino reportedly paid funeral directors $1000 a body, prosecutors said. Joseph Nicelli, who ran the Daniel George Funeral home at the time, helped acquire the victims through a body transporting business he ran. Cruceta, who, like Aldorasi, allegedly helped Mastromarino cut up the bodies, was the first to plead guilty to the charges of enterprise corruption, unlawful dissection, opening graves and forgery. The case against Nicelli is currently on hold as he recovers from a debilitating fall. During opening arguments last week, Aldorasi’s attorney Robert Koppelman said that his client was merely a pawn in Mastromarino’s ghoulish game. While Aldorasi’s signature was on some of the paperwork regarding the organs removed, Koppelman claimed that Mastromarino only gave him blank forms to sign. Mastromarino would fill out the forms with lies later, he said. “He [Aldorasi] never knew he was breaking the law,” Koppelman said.

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