A jury found body broker Arthur Rathburn guilty on Monday of illegally renting out diseased human body parts and heads to unwitting doctors
. He faces up to 20 years in prison for eight crimes, including wire fraud and illegally transporting hazardous materials.
Federal prosecutors alleged that from January 2007 to December 2013, Rathburn, 63, and his wife Elizabeth ran a corrupt body brokering company
called International Biological, Inc (IBI). For the grisly scheme, Rathburn dismembered cadavers with a chainsaw, band saw, and reciprocating saw
. He haphazardly piled parts and headsflesh on fleshamid pools of blood and shipped them wrapped in trash bags in camping coolers. Elizabeth, meanwhile, managed rental orders from clients who used the heads and parts for medical and dental training. All the while, the pair hid the fact that they often bought diseased bodies at bargain rates and made thousands renting individual parts that they knew to be contaminated with HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases.
The alleged conduct risked the health of medical students, dental students and baggage handlers, then-US Attorney Barbara McQuade said of the case.
The couple was indicted in January 2016 on 13 counts
. Elizabeth took a plea deal in March of that year. She pleaded guilty to wire fraud and admitted that she delivered body parts contaminated with hepatitis B and HIV to a 2012 conference of the American Society of Anesthesiologists while claiming that the remains were disease-free.
Elizabeth testified against her now ex-husband, Arthur, in his trial. The jury in the case only deliberated for four hours before handing down the guilty verdict.
[Mondays] verdict is a victory for the cause of justice, David Gelios, a special agent with the Detroit Division of the FBI, said in a statement. The fraud scheme orchestrated by IBI shocked even the most experienced of our investigative team as individuals, even in death, were victimized as IBI intentionally and recklessly marketed and transported contaminated human remains despite regulations prohibiting such practices. Once again, personal greed overcame decency.
Both Arthur and Elizabeth Rathburn are awaiting sentencing, which is expected this spring.