Body parts theft suspect turns prosecution witness

NEW YORK - (AP) - Participants in a scheme to take body parts from corpses made up names for the deceased so that the tissue could never be traced after it was sold to transplant patients.That information came from Lee Cruceta, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the scheme and is now testifying in a trial againstanother participant.

Cruceta says some corpses had signs of cancer, tuberculosis orother illnesses.Cruceta was testifying against Christopher Aldorasi, who is charged with enterprise corruption. Authorities say Adorasi was a cutter in the scheme.

Aldorasi's lawyer, Robert Koppelman, called Cruceta a "liar" during a break in testimony.

Authorities say the ring sold more than 1,000 body parts stolen from corpses at funeral homes, taking in up to $12 million between2001 and 2005.

The looted bodies included that of "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke, who died in 2004. Unaware of the body parts' origins, doctors used them in disk replacements, knee operations, dental implants and other surgical procedures across the United States and in Canada.

The scheme's mastermind, former oral surgeon Michael Mastromarino, pleaded guilty earlier last week to 14 charges, including enterprise corruption, body stealing and reckless endangerment.

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