Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Body-parts defendant who aided prosecutors gets shorter term

A stout, ruddy-faced James McCafferty Jr. - the third of the Philadelphia funeral-home operators who participated in the sickening national scam to illegally sell body parts - was sentenced yesterday to 3 1/2 to 10 years in state prison.

A stout, ruddy-faced James McCafferty Jr. - the third of the Philadelphia funeral-home operators who participated in the sickening national scam to illegally sell body parts - was sentenced yesterday to 3 1/2 to 10 years in state prison.

McCafferty, 38, received significantly less time compared to his co-conspirators - brothers Louis and Gerald Garzone and the scheme's mastermind, Michael Mastromarino - because of his cooperation with authorities, his early guilty plea and his lesser role in the horrifying scandal.

Still, to the victims of the illegal harvesting scheme, the impact is all too devastating.

"Two years ago, we got a phone call from the District Attorney's Office" saying that Harry J. Flynn was one of the 244 bodies illegally harvested here for tissue parts, Flynn's daughter, Lorraine Laurelli, 60, told Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson yesterday. "For two years, our life has been hell."

"This man, he sat there and talked to us, knowing what he was going to do with our father's body!" she said, referring to McCafferty, who shook his head as he sat at the defense table.

"It's like a 'Frankenstein' movie!" Laurelli said, adding that her family doesn't know if her father's ashes are really his.

Assistant District Attorney Evangelia Manos told the judge that the painful case has haunted two sets of victims - families like Laurelli's and the staggering number of people who received implants from diseased tissue.

"He led people into this chamber of horrors," Manos said.

Yet Manos agreed with defense attorney Glenn Zeitz that McCafferty, by approaching prosecutors and cooperating, provided information that led to the Garzones' having "no choice but to plead" guilty, saving the victims from suffering through a weeks-long trial.

The prosecutor asked the judge to sentence McCafferty to six to 12 years in prison.

McCafferty, his voice shaking, briefly said he "would like to thank everybody for attending this court session" and then apologized. About 20 of his supporters attended the hearing, as did four family members of victims.

Four of McCafferty's supporters - including the Rev. Joseph Campellone and the Rev. Kevin C. Lawrence - told the judge yesterday of McCafferty's compassion and charitable activities.

Zeitz told the judge that his client has a severe alcohol problem. He contended that although McCafferty clearly knew some things were going on in the scam, "he put blinders on" for other things.

From February 2004 through September 2005, Mastromarino, an oral surgeon who founded the now-closed Biomedical Tissue Services in Fort Lee, N.J., bought the diseased body parts from the Garzones and McCafferty at $1,000 per body.

McCafferty was directly responsible for providing six of the 244 bodies; the others were provided by the Garzones. McCafferty and the Garzones co-owned Liberty Cremation in Kensington, while each also ran a funeral home in the city.

The stolen tissue, taken without consent, was sent to processing companies, which then sold it to hospitals around the world for implants.

McCafferty, of Convent Lane near Ditman Street, East Torresdale, pleaded guilty Aug. 13 to charges of corrupt organization, conspiracy and theft by unlawful taking.

The judge yesterday ordered him to pay $100,000 in restitution to the victims.

Under a state law effective last month, the judge also found McCafferty eligible for an alternative minimum sentence - what's called a "recidivism-risk-reduction incentive" - because he has no history of violent behavior, among other criteria. McCafferty could be paroled after two years, 11 months - a term calculated based on the judge's minimum sentence - if he successfully completes recidivism-reduction programs in jail.

At the end of yesterday's 90-minute hearing, Zeitz asked if McCafferty, who has been out on bail, could surrender after Christmas.

"He's had a long time" to prepare for this, the judge said. "Let's get his sentence started."

McCafferty, wearing a dark-gray suit, coughed, then walked with a sheriff's deputy into the white cinderblock holding area for prisoners. He did not look back toward the gallery.

After the hearing, Laurelli, her sister Geraldine Flynn Donatelli and their brother, Anthony Flynn, said they were not satisfied with McCafferty's sentence. "There's no punishment severe enough" for what McCafferty did, Laurelli said.

Louis Garzone, 66, and Gerald Garzone, 48, pleaded guilty Sept. 2, the day their trial was slated to start. They were each sentenced Oct. 22 by Bronson to eight to 20 years in state prison. The judge that day also sentenced Mastromarino, 45, to 25 to 58 years in prison, to be served concurrently to his 18-to-54-year sentence on related charges in New York.

The Garzones paid $307,000 in restitution, including about $211,000 to go to victims' families.

Lee Cruceta, 36, of Monroe, N.Y., the chief "cutter," still faces sentencing here Feb. 13.

Prosecutors also are seeking to fine Garzone Funeral Home Inc. $60,000, which would go toward city and court costs. A hearing on that is slated for Jan. 22.