An American nurse confessed he cut body parts from 244 corpses and helped forge paperwork so the parts, some of them diseased, could be used in unsuspecting patients.
Authorities say nurse Lee Cruceta was the lead cutter in a group that trafficked in more than 1,000 stolen body parts for the lucrative transplant market.
Cruceta pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy, taking part in a corrupt organization, abuse of a corpse and 244 counts each of theft and forgery. Cruceta, 35, also has pleaded guilty to related charges in New York and negotiated pleas to serve concurrent sentences of 6 1/2 to 20 years.
He is expected to testify against the other defendants, and won’t be formally sentenced until those cases are resolved.
Several funeral directors have pleaded guilty in New York, and the accused ringleader Michael Mastromarino, 44, is being held in the case. Three funeral directors in Philadelphia have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.
Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney Bruce Sagel told a judge that Mastromarino also is expected to plead guilty. The timing of his plea was uncertain.