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Division of Consumer Affairs
Press Release

Attorney General
Anne Milgram
Division of Consumer Affairs, Director
David Szuchman
   
For Immediate Release:
January 6, 2009 
For Further Information Contact:
Jeff Lamm, 973-504-6327
 
FUNERAL DIRECTORS LOSE LICENSE
FOR ROLE IN BODY-PARTS SCHEME

NEWARK -- Two Essex County funeral directors have agreed to permanent revocation of their mortuary science licenses for their involvement in a scheme to harvest body parts from decedents without the proper consent.

In an Order entered today by the State Board of Mortuary Science, Stephen K. Finley agreed to the revocation with prejudice of his mortuary science license and to the permanent bar on his right to apply or re-apply for a license to practice mortuary science in the State of New Jersey. In addition, Finley has agreed to pay $40,000 in civil penalties. The Essex County Prosecutor’s office is currently handling the criminal aspect of this case. Finley owns Berardinelli Forest Hill Memorial Home, Cremation at a Low Cost, and Funeraria Santa Cruz all located in Newark.

In an Order entered on December 2, 2008, Robert J. Maitner Jr. agreed to the permanent revocation of his mortuary science license and his preclusion from any future involvement in or ownership of any aspect of the funeral director industry or funeral home business. Maitner owned Kiernan Funeral Home and Maitner Cremation Services both located in Belleville. Both businesses have been closed. Maitner pled guilty in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Kings, to attempted enterprise corruption. Maitner received six months in prison and five years probation. In addition, Maitner paid $100,000 in settlement of a civil forfeiture claim.

“The activities engaged in by these funeral directors were abhorrent and violated common decency,” Attorney General Anne Milgram said. “The permanent license revocations are appropriate given their actions.”

“Our Enforcement Bureau worked tirelessly in investigating this matter and bringing the facts to the Board for its review,” said David Szuchman, Consumer Affairs Director. “The evidence brought forth by our investigators built the case that ultimately resulted in the Board taking strong action against these two individuals.”

An investigation by the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau, with the assistance of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and the Food and Drug Administration, uncovered that both funeral directors were involved in a scheme spanning from June 1, 2001 to October 31, 2005 to harvest tissue from the dead without obtaining the proper consent. This tissue was then allegedly sold and used in surgical procedures. The kingpin of the scheme, Michael Mastromarino, pleaded guilty in New York to enterprise corruption, body stealing, and reckless endangerment. He is serving a prison term of 18 to 54 years. Mastromarino also pled to similar charges in Pennsylvania and was sentenced to 25 to 58 years in prison. The two sentences will run concurrently.

Deputy Attorney General Doreen A. Hafner represented the State in this matter.

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