Donald Greene Sr. from Illinois and his son Donald Greene II have been charged in a probe over diseased body parts sold for research and education.
Cadavers Tested Positive For Infectious Diseases
Federal prosecutors said researchers paid to use the cadavers not knowing these tested positive for infectious diseases.
Prosecutors, for instance, alleged that in 2013, Greene Sr. sold remains that tested positive for hepatitis to Detroit Medical Center.
The charge states that the goal of the scheme is to profit from customers who were not aware they received remains that either tested positive for the serious infectious disease or were not tested for these diseases.
The older Greene is charged with wire fraud, while his son is charged for his failure to report the scheme. The charges were filed last week as a criminal information, so a guilty plea is expected.
Arthur Rathburn Case
The charges are related to the case of Arthur Rathburn who was sentenced to nine years in prison in May 2018. The 64-year-old Detroit man, who supplied cadavers and body parts for medical training, failed to disclose that these were infected with hepatitis or HIV.
Evidence collected from Rathburn's case led federal investigators to Greene Sr. and his namesake.
"Body brokers" earn by charging institutions to have access to donated bodies for scientific purposes.
While most people are buried or cremated when they died, some bodies are donated to science. Whole-body donations though need to be authorized by the donor before death or by relatives after death.
One reason why the bodies are turned over to body brokers and not to states or universities is the cost. It allows relatives to save several hundred dollars.
"Brokers often offer donors to pick up the body and transport and cremate it for free in return for body donation," Reuters reported in 2017.
"Another reason is marketing. Brokers advertise online and work with funeral homes, hospitals, nursing homes and hospices to solicit bodies from the dying and their families."
It is not illegal to dismember and broker body parts. What is illegal is to knowingly sell remains that tested for infectious diseases, like what was allegedly done by the Greenes from 2008 to 2014.