(UNDATED) - He was convicted of illegally selling the bones and other body parts of dead people to medical offices.
James Ford of PIX11 reports, now, so-called Body Snatcher Michael Mastromarino is suffering from a terminal bone cancer, in a situation some might call poetic justice, but which his attorney simply calls a tragedy.
"I said, 'I can't believe how ironic it is that you actually have bone cancer,'" Mastromarino's lawyer, Mario Gallucci, told PIX11 News regarding a recent conversation he'd had with his client about Mastromarino's health. "He chuckled and said, 'It's kind of ironic. Unfortunately, the tissue and bone I harvested [in my business] would not have helped this condition anyway," Gallucci recalled.
Mastromarino is serving an 18- to 54-year sentence after being found guilty five years ago in a court case so emotional that it left one of the prosecutors crying at the witness table, as family after family told their stories of how the body parts of beloved relatives were sold from their coffins without the families' knowledge. The case received international attention when it was learned that the body of deceased British commentator Alistair Cooke was among those that were illegally harvested.
Now, so-called Body Snatcher Michael Mastromarino is suffering from a terminal bone cancer, in a situation some might call poetic justice, but which his attorney simply calls a tragedy.
Also on the stand during the trial were people who'd had medical procedures done in which they'd received bone, skin or other tissue obtained illegally. Some of them testified in court that the materials they'd received had caused them to become ill themselves. It was testimony to which Mastromarino still takes exception.
"Nobody yet has been able to prove that [Mastromarino's] bone, skin or tissue... ever led to illness," his lawyer said.
Instead, attorney Mario Gallucci focused on the illness of his client, who is in grave condition. "He had last rites read to him about two weeks ago," Gallucci told PIX11 News. "He's down about a hundred pounds. He's very very weak. It's horrible. It's horrible."
Gallucci also pointed out that Mastromarino's cell mate in prison may be emotionally affected by the loss of the so-called Body Snatcher. That cell mate is notorious in his own right. Preppie Killer Robert Chambers shares a cell with Mastromarino, and is serving a 19-year sentence for drug sales.
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