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Death - Miscellaneous

Alistair Cooke - PBS's Masterpiece TheaterCelebrity Bones - While celebrities are alive, they are sought out for their autographs by avid fans, but sometimes the need to have something "celebrity" gets out of hand as in the case of Alistair Cooke, the popular host of PBS's MASTERPIECE THEATER from 1971-1993. When he died on March 30, 2004, Cooke's bones were illegally harvested (surgically removed) right before his body was to be cremated. Cooke had died of lung cancer that spread to his bones. His 95 year-old cancerous bones were then sold (for $7000) to tissue processing companies for transplanting purposes.

The alleged body-snatching ghoul who stole the bones was Michael Mastromarino, the operator of Biomedical Tissue Services Ltd., a tissue recovery business that sold body parts, including bone, skin and cardiac valves. Cooke's remains were supposedly sold to Regeneration Technologies Inc., of Alachua, Fla., and Tutogen Medical Inc., of Paterson, N.J.

Mastromarino altered the death records to say Cooke died from a heart attack at the age of 85 so he could sell the remains and bypass Food and Drug Administration regulations which prohibit the use of cancerous bones and aged body parts.

Mastromarino's former partner, Joseph Nicelli, an embalmer, was also investigated for allegedly forging hundreds of records in their business from 2000 to October 2005.


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