Selling body parts is lucrative
The body broker collected $1.5 million by selling cadaver parts to private medical research companies. A juror also faults the university for ‘allowing something like this.’
A businessman accused of selling human body parts donated to UCLA’s medical school in a scandal that tarnished the reputation of the university’s willed-body program was found guilty Thursday of conspiring to commit grand theft, embezzlement and tax evasion .
Los Angeles County prosecutors said Ernest V. Nelson, 51, cut up heads, torsos and other parts from donated corpses and sold them without UCLA’s permission to medical and pharmaceutical research companies, collecting $1.5 million between 1999 and 2003.
The bodies were donated to UCLA for medical and scientific research at the university. The scandal over the sale of the body parts became public in 2004 and prompted the closure of the program for more than 18 months.
Prosecutors said Nelson hatched the scheme with the director of the willed-body program, Henry Reid, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to commit theft. Reid received checks from Nelson totaling $43,000 in return for giving him access to the bodies, prosecutors said. Other payments were allegedly made in cash.
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