Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Frankenstein Franchise

Lawyer: D.A. doubts 'cutter'

The chief "cutter" in the national body-parts scandal - in charge of removing the often-diseased tissue of 244 late Philadelphians - is trying to cooperate with authorities, but "they don't believe him," his attorney said last night. Lee Cruceta, 34, surrendered shortly after his ex-boss, Michael Mastromarino, 44, of Fort Lee, N.J., the reputed ringleader of the body-parts scandal and the owner of the now-closed Biomedical Tissue Services, in Fort Lee.

In 2004, Mastromarino arranged to buy tissue from three Philadelphia funeral-home operators who supplied the 244 corpses - without survivors' consent - during an 18-month period, a grand jury found last Thursday. BTS paid the operators $245,995. BTS then sold the tissue to five companies that processed it for hospitals, where surgeons unwittingly used it for implants.

It's shit like this that suggests there’s a need for federal and state regulators to enforce whatever minimal regulations govern the human body parts industry. Under the Bush administration, enforcement was transferred from government agencies to the industries themselves. But unlike the Enron and mortgage debacles that just robbed citizens of their financial assets, a lack of enforcement within the human body parts industry stands to rob citizens of their very lives. The next time you hear a politician wax eloquently on the advantages of privatization, remember the swindles perpetrated by people like Ken Lay (Enron), Michael Milken (Drexel), Gary Winnick (Global Crossing), Dennis Kozlowski (Tyco International), John Rigas (Adelphia). Bush’s six year experiment in allowing industry to police itself has been a failure. There’s a role for government in providing the big stick deterrence behind any effective regulations.


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