Ringleader of body parts scheme in court

June 12, 2008 10:46:05 AM PDT
The mastermind behind a ghoulish scheme that involved looting hundreds of corpses and selling the parts for millions of dollars has apologized to the families of the victims and tissue recipients. Michael Mastromarino, a former oral surgeon, says he is truly sorry for the "pain and grief" he caused. He spoke briefly Thursday in Brooklyn court, where he'll be sentenced later this month.

In March, Mastromarino pleaded guilty to running the macabre operation that lasted from 2001 to 2005 until authorities arrested him. He was charged with numerous felony counts, including enterprise corruption, body stealing and reckless endangerment.

The bodies were carved up without permission or proper screening for diseases. They were sold for dental implants, knee and hip replacements and other procedures around the U.S.

The plundered bodies included that of "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke.