10-year sentence in LA body parts trafficking case

June 12, 2009 05:44


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A former mortuary worker convicted of carving up and selling cadavers donated to the University of California at Los Angeles' medical school was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday and ordered to pay more than $1.7 million. Jurors had found Ernest Nelson, 51, guilty of eight counts, including grand theft and tax evasion after a trial that detailed how he and Henry Reid, the former director of UCLA's Willed Body Program, conspired to sell body parts from donated cadavers to enrich themselves. "This is one of those cases so outrageous it doesn't come along very often," said Superior Court Judge Curtis Rappe. "It's unusual only for the audacity with which the defendant acted." Deputy District attorney Marisa Zarate said the facts of the case "take your breath away." She said that while Reid aided in the scheme, it was Nelson who walked into freezers, dismembered bodies, packaged the parts and delivered them to buyers across America, including research firms and hospitals.

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