Man facing federal charges in body broker case

Posted at 1:06 PM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 17:18:22-05

A Grosse Pointe Park man and his wife are facing more than a dozen federal charges in connection to a body broker case.

According to a federal indictment unsealed on Friday, Arthur and Elizabeth Rathburn ran International Biological Inc. (IBI) which rented human body parts such as head and torsos to customers who used them for medical or dental training.

The charges include multiple counts of Wire Fraud, Aiding and Abetting, False Statements and one count of Transportation of Hazardous Material.

In March of 2015, federal officials unsealed documents that outlined the case they were building against body brokers in Detroit, Chicago and Phoenix. Three businesses were raided last year in connection to their investigation.

Sources say the Detroit business was located in a shabby warehouse and contained body parts of more than 1,000 different people. Those body parts included heads, arms and legs that were cut up and kept on ice - not embalmed.

According to the indictment, Arthur and Elizabeth obtained most of the bodies from Anatomical Services, Inc. (ASI) and Biological Resource Center of Illinois (BRCIL).

The indictment states IBI would get the bodies and then dismember them to rent out for training. Both Arthur and Elizabeth knew the bodies died from infectious disease, and sometimes "obtained diseased remains from their suppliers at a reduced cost," according to the documents.

The documents also show IBI would sell to its customers, "falsely representing to those customers that the remains were free from certain infectious diseases" because the customers would not accept some infected remains.

"The scheme included (1) directly profiting from infectious remains supplied to unwitting customers in violation of contractual agreements and (2) not disclosing to customers that IBI failed to take industry standard precautions to prevent potential cross-contamination between infections and non-infectious remains," the indictment read.

IBI is accused of selling the body parts from January 2007 through December 2013.

The company also failed to take industry-standard precautions when it came to dismembering the body parts, according to the indictment.

Arthur "used a chainsaw, band saw, and reciprocating saw to dismember bodies without taking sanitary precautions," and "stored human heads by stacking them directly on top of each other without any protective barrier."

Read the entire indictment below:

Arthur Rathburn Indictment