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Sentencing delayed in body-parts case

The scheduled sentencing of a man convicted of secretly cutting up corpses - including that of

Masterpiece Theatre

host Alistair Cooke - as part of a plot to sell body parts was postponed yesterday in Common Pleas Court.

Lee Cruceta, 35, of Monroe, N.Y., who has admitted being the lead cutter in the multimillion-dollar scheme, faces 61/2 to 20 years for his crimes in both New York and Pennsylvania. Estimates are that as many as 13,000 patients have received the stolen body parts in transplants, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Cruceta, who has admitted chopping up as many as 244 corpses, is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Leon Tucker at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Criminal Justice Center. Several funeral-home operators have already pleaded guilty in the scam.

Cruceta was scheduled to face sentencing in New York before sentencing here. A court official said yesterday that sentencing in New York had not occurred yet.

- Dwight Ott