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Surgeon Sells Funeral Home Body Parts
Aired November 20, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight. When Barbra begins dating Michael, it`s clear he`s the Prince Charming she`s always been looking for -- smart, handsome, on his way to a great career as a surgeon. But did success catch up with him? Did he spiral out of control into a vicious cycle of drugs, other women, and an unimaginable criminal underworld?
Bombshell tonight. Does Prince Charming turn out to be the ringleader of the unthinkable, buying and selling dead bodies and body parts, complete with a secret operating room and a team of cutters to slice up bodies? Then every day, he comes home to his wife and family.
Tonight, the harsh reality. The urban myth of stolen body parts comes horribly true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the man accused of being at the heart of an all but unthinkable crime. He`s nicknamed Frankenstein.
MICHAEL MASTROMARINO, SURGEON: My name is Michael Mastromarino. I would describe myself as a quadruple-A personality that`s driven.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the new owners of the funeral home found bodies whose bones had been replaced with plumbers` pipe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) be regarded as public enemy number one, it`s horrible. Life is fragile.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nearly 1,100 other corpses were harvested against their will.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the four years of their operation, they grossed millions of dollars.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sending shock waves through a billion-dollar industry, the business of human body parts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hundreds of family members attend wakes for their loved ones, never knowing their bodies have been desecrated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Words like injustice, corrupt or even immoral do not capture the essence of what was done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.
Bombshell tonight. Barbra begins dating Michael, and it seems clear he`s the Prince Charming she`s always been looking for. . He`s smart. He`s good-looking, on his way to a prestigious career as a surgeon.
But tonight, does Prince Charming turn out to be the ringleader of the unthinkable, buying and selling dead bodies and body parts, complete with a secret operating room and his own team of cutters that slice up the bodies, often bragging that they can strip down a body like a car within just one hour. How could she not know what was going on?
This is an urban myth, that you wake up out of a slumber, an unconscious sleep, surrounded in a bathtub full of ice, missing a kidney. That urban myth tonight turns horribly true.
We are taking your calls. Straight out to Brett Larson, investigative reporter. Brett, what do we know?
BRETT LARSON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Hi. I mean, Nancy, you described it. It is like a scene out of a horror movie. It`s like a bad urban legend. This guy, family man, church-goer. He`s got the wife. He`s got the kids. He`s living in an expensive home that he`s paying for with money he`s making from selling stolen body parts. He`s -- he`s got these crooked...
GRACE: Whoa! We`re showing the pictures you`re talking about, Brett Larson. This looks like one of those fairy tale weddings, with the beautiful, puffy bride dress and the veil, and they`re getting out of this long black limo together, starting her life, Prince Charming. I guess a lot of people, a lot of women would think they had really landed the catch.
Michael Board, WOIA, what happened?
MICHAEL BOARD, WOAI: Well, Nancy, I didn`t know that this was actually an industry, but there`s a whole industry out there of people who obtain the body parts of the recently deceased and then sell them to processing companies, who will turn those body parts into things like fake teeth, ligaments that are used in knee transplants. These are legislate businesses that are out there. I never knew this would happen.
He was running something like this, but he was doing this so underhandedly, and something out of a cheap horror movie -- he was actually never getting permission for some of these bodies that he was taking from funeral homes. He was working with corrupt funeral directors to illegally obtain some of these body parts. The families of the deceased didn`t even know this was going on, Nancy.
GRACE: Well, wait a minute. Back to you, Brett Larson. Didn`t it all crack wide open when they messed with the wrong body?
Everybody, we are talking about the horrible urban myth coming true, stealing bodies and body parts against the victims` will, against the wills of their families.
Didn`t it all break wide open when they messed with the wrong body, that being Alistair Cooke, who was -- Ellie, what was he, the -- "Masterpiece Theater," right. He was the long-time star of the series "Masterpiece Theater." We`ve all seen or heard of that.
They got this guy`s body and chopped it up against his -- the family knew nothing about it. They sell his body. They -- they`re getting, like, $10,000 on some of these bodies, and then they mess with a TV star. And his family finds out. That`s really how the whole thing cracked wide open.
Joining me right now is Susan Cooke Kittredge. Her father, Alistair Cooke`s, body parts were sold. And you know, that`s something you never think you`re going to hear, your father`s body parts were sold.
And also joining us tonight is the ex-wife of Michael Mastromarino, the Prince Charming that turned into the ringleader of the urban myth, body snatching.
First of all, to you, Barbra. Thank you for being with us. Barbra Reifel is with us. How did you not know? We`re all convinced you had no idea. You think you`re marrying Prince Charming. When did you first realize what your husband was up to?
BARBRA REIFEL, EX-WIFE OF SURGEON (via telephone): Well, I have to say, Nancy, that I did not know that he was the ringleader of all of this, that he had any kind of guilt in this until he met with me in the DA`s office and admitted to me face to face. And he had told us all. He had told his attorney. He had told all of us, me, his family. I more -- moreso the people out there that weren`t so close to him, since he was quite the textbook sociopath. Moreso everybody out there probably had more of a better idea that he was guilty than the people closer to him.
GRACE: You know, everyone, with me and taking your calls is Barbra Reifel, the ex-wife of the mastermind of this -- this ring buying and selling bodies and body parts.
You think you`re sending your loved one to the funeral home. Little do you know. Police ultimately uncover a filthy operating room, filthy, where these bodies would be just sliced and diced, literally.
Matt Zarrell, I was telling viewers about how the one member of the cutting team was bragging they could strip down a body in one hour. Matt Zarrell, describe.
MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER (via telephone): Yes, Nancy, they would actually race to see who could do it the fastest. One of the lead cutter said when they cut up one victim`s body, they cut him up on a rusted table and a filthy, cramped, blood-encrusted embalming room at the funeral home where they were conspiring.
GRACE: And Matt, how did the whole thing get busted wide open?
ZARRELL: Nancy, the case was broken open when an NYPD detective responded to a complaining from one of the funeral directors -- from a funeral director in Brooklyn, complaining about the prior owner of the funeral home taking the down payment for prepaid funerals.
She went there. She noticed an embalming room that she described looked more like an operating room, with a steel table and bright overhead lights. That`s when the detective went back and began investigating and realized through old files that these companies were involved in tissue transplants.
GRACE: You know, Matt, what really got to me is -- like, for instance, with us today is the daughter of Alistair Cooke, and I remember when this broke, reading it. I guess I read it in "The New York Times" or either "The New York Post." I mean, he, a famous, famous legend, a TV legend, Alistair Cooke. And you think you`re sending the person or the people you love the most to a funeral home to be taken care of, and then you find out that they`re chopped up like a car, like a chop shop.
The story, Matt Zarrell, of how they raced in and stripped the guy`s arms and skin off?
ZARRELL: Yes, Nancy. It was really, really tough to hear. They -- they -- in less than an hour, they sawed off one victim`s arms and legs, stripped the bones., extracted other bone material, cut out the victim`s Achilles tendons and sliced his skin from his body.
GRACE: Matt Zarrell, who`s getting all these body parts? And how do you know -- if you`re walking around in America today and you`ve had a tissue transplant or you`re a burn victim and you`ve got a skin transplant, this tissue -- these body parts were used for thousands of people all over this country. And the reality is, they also faked the screening of these body parts, everybody. Some of these victims had AIDS. They had cancer.
Explain, Matt Zarrell.
ZARRELL: Yes, Nancy. They actually covered up and blood samples were deliberately mislabeled, so tissue from bodies infected with diseases such as HIV or hepatitis evaded tests that screen for those diseases when they would do a transplant.
GRACE: Whoa, whoa! Liz, put up that X-ray again. How does PVC pipe play into this scenario, Matt Zarrell?
ZARRELL: OK, what happened was is that after they cut up the bodies, for the bodies that were going to go to a wake and be buried, they would use these PVC plastic piping in the lower extremities to replace the bones that they took, for the wake, to make it appear to the funeral-goers that nothing happened to the body.
GRACE: OK. Whoa, whoa! Wa-wait! Matt, so when there would be an open casket funeral, they would go in, they would actually go in, they would replace the bones...
GRACE: ... with PVC piping?
ZARRELL: Yes, that`s correct.
GRACE: OK, back to you Barbra Reifel. You`re his ex-wife. I`ve got to hear about what he would do. What would he say when he would come home from work? You`d think that he had been -- he was a successful surgeon.
REIFEL: Well, Nancy, he had had a history of addiction to Demerol he put a patient to sleep with. So he found this new business that would keep him safe from the drug, help other people, and would make something back for his family.
So it just seemed like he was more of a hero than a monster. And you know, it just -- it just was incomprehensible to me that a man could be guilty of such disgusting, horrific things when he had by the grace of God had a second chance at life. He almost died a few times for the drugs (INAUDIBLE)
GRACE: So he comes home from work every day, and what`s his demeanor? I mean, how could he hide that that`s what he had been doing all day?
REIFEL: Oh, well, he had his teams, and he would spend more time with us as a family than he ever had, which was nice for us. So really, I was not a part of the business, though, you know, unfortunately, he had me sign a few things (INAUDIBLE)
GRACE: So you had basically no idea what was going on.
REIFEL: No idea.
GRACE: To Susan Cooke Kittredge. Her father is Alistair Cooke -- is Alistair Cooke. His body parts sold. Susan, I hate for you to even hear all this, but you have dealt and grappled with these facts. When did you learn your father had fallen victim to basically a human chop shop?
SUSAN COOKE KITTREDGE, DAUGHTER OF ALISTAIR COOKE (via telephone): I learned, Nancy, first about it 18 months after my father died, when I received a telephone call from a detective at the Brooklyn district attorney`s office. And he asked me if I had heard of the ongoing investigation, and I hadn`t. And then he told me that he believed that my father`s body was one of the bodies that had been stolen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mastromarino knowingly forged donor forms and medical records to conceal the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Mastromarino had not received permission to recover these tissues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... nationwide recall of body parts from Mastromarino`s company, parts like skin, heart valves, bones, key to cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
Authorities say skin and bones were illegally harvested, funeral homes turned into butcher shops.
The scandal that`s making ghoulish headlines. It`s sending shock waves through a billion-dollar industry that until now has remained out of the spotlight, the business of human body parts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: She married who she believed was Prince Charming. He`s handsome. He`s smart. He`s educated. He`s on his way to a prestigious career as a surgeon.
Well, it all goes sideways when he admits to her at the district attorney`s office, yes, he has been the ringleader of a group buying and selling bodies and body parts. That`s not the end of the story. There are over 10,000 Americans today, that we know of, that are recipients of this tissue, tissue of people that were infected with AIDS, that had cancer, other infectious diseases. And all of those records were faked so they could sell the body parts, sell the tissue to unsuspecting people waiting in the operating room.
Barbra Reifel is with us. She was Mastromarino`s wife at the time of all this. When you saw him there at the police station or the district attorney`s office and he admits to you, straight to your face, that he had been doing this, what was his motivation? What did he say?
REIFEL: Greed. He said it was all greed because I did ask him, Why did you do it? He had said -- the district attorney also had said to him, You could have had such a rewarding business to help people. You did not have to do this. Why? And he admitted that to them, as well. It was greed.
GRACE: Barbra, do your children have any idea about why their dad was arrested?
REIFEL: They know it all. And I was always very up front and honest as much as I could be from the beginning, which only helped them and I was always there for them. So they`re -- they`re, thank God, OK. And my older one is grappling with visiting him soon, man-to-man, face-to-face, eye-to- eye, and that has questions for him which he already had admitted that he`s not readily going to believe anything he has to say (INAUDIBLE)
GRACE: Barbra, do you basically have to hide out from these victims` families? Because I really don`t know what I would do if I find out the people that I love the most had their bodies chop-shopped.
REIFEL: Nancy, I cannot -- I cannot -- I cannot apologize for what he`s done because he`s the one that had done it. I had nothing to do with it. I can only apologize for their pain and their suffering that they`re going to have to live with for the rest of their life. You know, it`s no comparison. My suffering is -- is -- we`ll get through this and we`re OK.
What he`s done to people, there`s no recourse. And I can only hope that people are not sick in the brain to try to reach out and hurt me. The only thing I`ve ever done is try to help my children and protect my children. They are the most important thing to me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Out to the lines. Tim in Illinois. Hi, Tim. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Nancy. It`s an honor to speak with you.
GRACE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just wondering -- I`ve seen all kinds of shows about this on TV, and I know the husband had problems. I think he had some drug addiction problems, too. And the wife knew about that. I just find it hard to believe that the wife or other family didn`t know what was going on through all these years.
GRACE: You know, I`m going to go to one of the victims, Susan Cooke Kittredge. What is your take on that, Susan?
KITTREDGE: You know, Nancy, I honestly believe that his family was -- that he stole lives from them, as well, as much as he stole bodies from other people. He robbed them of the life that they believed they were living, just as he robbed the rest of us who had loved ones stolen of, you know, a sort of normal grieving process. So I think that they were as much victims probably as we were.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they steal bone, they simply replace it with plumbers` PVC pipe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come to find out that, somehow, somebody got ahold of her body and they cut it up and they harvested whatever tissue, bone or anything else they could take from her, skin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, I`m not a rapist. We don`t mug people. We don`t hurt people. I don`t steal from people. But in it of itself, there`s still a crime was committed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is the person who decided to alter my life forever. I will never be the same because of his actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That`s CNBC`s "American Greed" and "Body Snatchers of New York."
We are taking your calls. How did this happen? He was her Prince Charming. They had a fairy tale wedding, a family, children. She sends him off to work every day as a successful surgeon. But the reality is, he is no more than a criminal, the ringleader in an urban myth come horribly true, body snatching. It`s all documented. It`s real.
Back out to you, Brett Larson, explain to those just joining us what happened.
LARSON: Well, you know, the Mastromarino was going to funeral homes, cutting open bodies, taking parts -- literally parts out of them. Skin pieces, heart valves for people. Not even screening them to make sure that they were clean and then selling them on this -- I mean, you can`t really call it a black market because it`s a legitimate thing. He`s selling these stolen body parts and making millions of dollars a year.
He made $4 million in just four years. Living the high life and people have no idea until he gets busted. Until they go to that funeral home and find out this isn`t a funeral home. This is a body chop shop.
GRACE: When you say living the high life, what do you mean by that?
LARSON: Well, he was living in a wonderful neighborhood. He had a million-dollar home. He and his wife, they had their two kids. She even - - she admitted in earlier interviews that, you know, she thought she had a fairy tale life until it all kind of came crashing down.
GRACE: And to you, Barbra Reifel, you were his wife. What do you mean by living the high life? What fairy tale life? Wow, that`s some mansion.
BARBRA REIFEL, EX-WIFE OF BODY SNATCHING SURGEON, MICHAEL MASTROMARINO: You know, it was a beautiful home. For me it was more about the warmth inside and family. The man that spent more time with us after his drug addiction it seemed like he just could be more of a father and a husband than I had ever known because he was such a work-a-holic. As he said he had quadruple a personality, he truly was.
But I have to say, never in too much success. It was just nice to be able to go on vacation. It was nice to not have to worry about finances, something that I had grown up with. That I did not have a lot of money growing up. And it was very easy for me to come back to this because I know the value of a dollar. And that`s something that he never did. He always needed more, and more and more and more. And that always scared me, it`s the whole idea of --
GRACE: What do you mean by that? He wanted more, more, more, more and more?
REIFEL: Nothing was ever enough. Even with surgery I remember him saying something along the lines of eventually he`s going to get bored with that. And how could anyone going to school for so many years in their mind say, I`m going to get bored with that as a surgeon? You really have to be a little bit off to think like that. A little bit way beyond your own capacity and get yourself in trouble.
I mean, obviously he did. He was always that -- to take that path, that dark path, the greedy path, and it`s going to show. Like I always had a little fear about him wanting to make so much money that our family might fall apart because he might still get so caught up with the money. And obviously it was a lot worse than I had ever imagined.
GRACE: When you say greed, like what? Did he have to drive the best car? Did he have to have the most beautiful home, a Rolex, the whole thing? I mean, what do you mean by greed?
REIFEL: Well, I would say nice things. Nice things. It doesn`t have to be the 100 percent best. I mean he had an S-55 Mercedes which was a very expensive car that he bought himself on his 40th birthday when he was doing very well. He planned to get me a Bentley which I did not want --
GRACE: Whoa, whoa. An S-55 is over $100,000.
REIFEL: Yes, yes. Exactly.
GRACE: Right. Better not dent your car with my mini van.
REIFEL: Exactly. Honestly, I never lived that life before him. To make him happy because I loved him, I tried to do things to make the family. I planned a nice vacation. It was -- you know, Disney, we went to the beach club, and we stayed by the water with the children. My vacations were always about the children. Whatever would make them happy. It really wasn`t -- it was about making him happy as well, but my children have always been my number one drive. Especially --
GRACE: Well, Barbra Reifel, you may want to cover your ears. Because I`m going now to Susan Cooke Kittredge, her father, the world renowned Alistair Cooke, who I`m sure you`ve all either heard of or seen on TV, the host of "Masterpiece Theater."
When you hear this, Susan, about his greed, and you realize your father`s body was chopped up to fuel his greed, what do you think?
SUSAN COOKE KITTREDGE, FATHER ALISTAIR COOKE`S BODY PARTS WERE SOLD: He`s a very sick human being. And you know, it doesn`t surprise me in the least bit. My only concern is that we talk about this as though it was all in the past, and I think that this is an industry that continues to thrive above board and below board. It`s a question of supply and demand.
If you ask yourself how many people you know who have had any kind of knee replacement or a tendon work or dental implants, you`re going to say that you`ve heard of lots of people. We all have. And then ask yourself how many people you know have willingly donated their body parts, and you`ll see that the seesaw is completely imbalanced.
There`s a huge demand for tissue and very little legitimate supply. And this is where the thieves come in and make off with it. And make --
GRACE: Let`s go to Dr. Bill Manion, medical examiner joining me out of Philadelphia tonight.
Dr. Manion, this extends to all the women and some men across the country that want those fillers. Like -- there`s the fake fillers, like restolin and there`s others.
Ellie, what are the name of some of those fillers?
But then there`s also fillers that use human tissue, Dr. Manion. I mean, it`s not just, for instance, for burn victims or for major surgeries. Human tissue is used in al sorts of procedures.
DR. BILL MANION, M.D., MEDICAL EXAMINER, BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ: That`s right. Bones in particular are processed and used as like a bone paste to help people heal from surgeries. The bone paste can be used as a scaffolding to help the new bone grow back and facilitate people getting better.
The big problem with this underground operation was that there was really no testing for AIDS or hepatitis, syphilis. You know, normally you would get blood and do tests on the person`s blood before you would submit these tissue to a company for processing. And here the -- apparently all this was faked. So it`s very fraudulent and there is a chance some people may have been transmitted -- may have received diseases, which were transmitted in these body parts.
GRACE: To Elizabeth Isaacson, funeral director of the Norberg Memorial Home.
Elizabeth, thank you for being with us. How could this happen? And I think that Susan Cooke Kittredge is right. I think this is a black market industry. I think it`s still going on right now.
ELIZABETH ISAACSON, FUNERAL DIRECTOR, NORBERG MEMORIAL HOME: I completely agree it is possible for this to happen. As she said, above and below board. Above board it certainly is a lovely thing to donate and help someone else. Below board, however, it can be quite horrible and disgusting thing when someone that you love has their body parts taken against your wishes and theirs. It is entirely possible and it all does boil down to greed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Funeral homes turned into butcher shops.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A single body chopped into pieces can be worth up to $150,000.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stuffed the corpses with garbage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Out to the lines. Rachel Kent, what`s happening?
RACHEL KENT, NANCY GRACE SOCIAL MEDIA PRODUCER: Nancy, I find it interesting that people online, on social media, are talking about blaming the wife in this case. They want to know why she wasn`t charged with anything dealing with her husband`s crimes. People are saying they`re living the high life. Living in a $1.5 million home. Where did she think the money was coming from?
GRACE: OK. Well, her husband was a surgeon. In her mind.
REIFEL: I watched his business grow from what he told me. It was -- as far as I knew he was helping people. I had nothing to do with this. The people -- I cannot help what people think. They were not there with me in my life with my husband.
GRACE: And let`s unleash the lawyers on this. Kirby Clements, defense attorney, Atlanta. Regina Tsombanakis, a defense attorney in Miami, and also with us, Caryn Stark, a psychologist.
First of all, Caryn, a lot of times people believe -- I don`t see Caryn Stark. People believe what they want to believe. There may be some signs there, but I don`t necessarily believe that there is going to be criminal liability because she didn`t see the signs.
CARYN STARK, PSYCHOLOGIST: I don`t think there`s criminal liability, Nancy. But I have to tell you that it`s very strange that she saw no signs. And I know she`s going to disagree with this but usually -- especially because he had a history of drug addiction there were hints that something was amiss in their lifestyle. And I can`t believe that nothing ever came out that show that there was some other side to this.
GRACE: Well, you know, maybe something did come out, Kirby Clements. I hear what Caryn is saying. She`s the expert. And maybe things did come out. But when you want to believe somebody --
REIFEL: That`s it.
GRACE: You`re seeing the world through the filter of their eyes. OK, he`s a surgeon, but he was never really reporting to work enough to make that kind of money. But like she said, he had his team in place. I mean, she`s not a doctor. How is she supposed to know, Kirby?
KIRBY CLEMENTS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She`s not supposed to know. And I have to agree with her that she didn`t know. I mean you`re not called upon to be an investigator for your spouse. If your spouse says the business is going good, then it`s going good. You`re not going to sit there and let me go check behind you. So there`s no way in the world she could have known and she didn`t know.
REGINA TSOMBANAKIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, there`s really one thing that`s important here. He was caught cheating on her. He was in a car accident while on drugs, out of his mind, with another woman. Does that not give you a clue that this man lies and breaks the law? Are you just going to believe everything he says after that? Forget the drugs. He`s with another woman. So he`s lying to you on a regular basis. That should be a clue. A big one.
GRACE: What about it, Barbra? She`s right. I hadn`t even brought up the whole cheating scenario.
REIFEL: Well, I have to say this, and I`ll say a couple of things. That I do understand how people might think that. But most cheaters in this world, which there are many, does not make them a criminal. That serves the goal. The man rose from the ashes after his drug addiction to try to make something good for himself and for others. That`s the way it seemed. Also after he has said -- he had told me, told me in the bathroom, when all of this first kind of happened, and he had asked me, should I run, I`m innocent. But shall I said, are you innocent? He said, yes, I`m innocent, I said, then stay and fight.
The man stayed and he fought. He`s the type of man that may have run. I don`t know. But I`m telling you what he told me. He stayed in sight, then proceedingly as things kind of unfolded, he has said that there must be a bigger fish. There`s a bigger fish. They`re trying to get information out of me. They need to -- I`m not telling them what they want. He used to tell us, (INAUDIBLE), all of these things and then he tried to blame it on the funeral home. So as he went along, he couldn`t understand. He was baffled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This man, Dr. Michael Mastromarino, selling stolen diseased tissue at tissue banks and hospitals around the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the sickest crimes that has ever been committed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They cut him up pretty much piece by piece.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did your client for any reason, ever, illegally harvest any tissue?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A grave robbing dentists makes millions harvesting the dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It disgusts me that there would be a person out there that would do this type of thing and hurt these families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He operates in a butcher shop in effect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like a nightmare. You never thought anybody could do anything like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That`s CNBC`s "American Greed." And that was the alleged motivation for the urban myth of body snatching and body part snatching come horribly true. She was married to Prince Charming. It turned out he`s a ring leader of a body parts and body snatching underworld.
To Josh in Texas. Hi, Josh. What`s your question?
JOSH, CALLER FROM TEXAS: Yes. I was just wondering how they finally found out it was him. Seems like he had gotten away with it for so long. So what finally led them to him?
GRACE: Good question.
Michael Board, WOAI.
MICHAEL BOARD, REPORTER, WOAI NEWSRADIO: Well, it was several things. It was a funeral home director who had purchased one of these funeral homes who found something amiss. Also one of the people that purchased bones and ligaments from him started going over the charts. Realized real simple things like doctor phone numbers were wrong. Patients` birth dates weren`t so right.
Simple things like that they said something`s not right here. It`s little clues like that that tipped off police to this massive fraud ring.
GRACE: And to you, Matt Zarrell. Give me some more details.
MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE STAFFER, COVERING STORY: OK. A couple of things I wanted to mention. We talk about the cleanliness when they were cutting up these bodies. So one of the, quote-unquote, cutters said that Mastromarino stopped him as he went to scrub his hands before starting to harvest things. Telling him there was no need to do that, no need to scrub his hands. The bodies routinely sat in the funeral homes for days without refrigerate, sometimes in an alley or a garage.
GRACE: We remember American hero, Army Sergeant Sean Durkin, 24, Aurora, Colorado. Bronze Star, Purple Heart, three Army Achievement medals. Loved restoring his two Honda Civics, loved hiking, war books, mother Maryann, sister Megan.
Sean Durkin, American hero.
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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police say bones illegally removed from bodies then sold were replaced with plastic pipes to cover up the crime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just -- I hate myself every day for picking the funeral home that I picked. Because of him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a pretty heinous -- pretty heinous acts that they`ve committed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It disgusts me that there`d be a person out there that would do this type of thing and hurt these families.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Tossed gloves, aprons, and other evidence of their handiwork back into the body before sawing it up and preparing it for viewing.
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GRACE: And in cahoots with him were the funeral directors. This successful surgeon, her prince charming that she married and had children with, is the ring leader of a body snatching operation.
Kirby Clements and Regina Tsombanakis, joining us.
Kirby Clements, what`s your defense for the funeral home directors part of all this?
CLEMENTS: Well, I think the funeral home directors are really going to be struggling here. I think they`d have to be able to say that --
GRACE: That`s a good way to put it.
CLEMENTS: That the consents were signed and they believe that the consents were validly obtained consents. But that`s about all they have right there.
TSOMBANAKIS: That is pretty much all they have. However, we need to really understand that the Department of Health and the FDA is also to blame because the Department of Health gave him a license to do this. After the man had lost his license as an oral surgeon because of his questionable moral turpitude with the drug and his ability to stay off it. And then the FDA goes to inspect and they say it`s OK.
GRACE: To psychologist Caryn Stark. Caryn, it`s awful enough when you suffer someone`s death. But then to find out their body was chopped up and sold on the black market, that PVC pipe was stuck into their body to look like bones at the wake.
STARK: Nancy, that is similar to murder. So these people will never get over the fact that this happened to their loved ones. They innocently gave their bodies up and then had to deal with this horrendous, heinous crime.
GRACE: I want to say a special thank you, Caryn, for those words. But to Barbra Reifel, the wife of this guy, and especially to Susan Cooke Kittredge. Her father Alistair Cooke`s body, one of these victims.
Everybody, on a happy note, I want to congratulate two beautiful young people. Sydney and Miller Kaufman celebrating their bar and bat mitzvah. So many of us have so much to be thankful for as we head into Thanksgiving.
And here is John David, Lucy was in the background singing backup, singing another special Thanksgiving song for you.
"DR. DREW" is up next, everybody. I`ll see you tomorrow night 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.