Second Human Tissue Broker Faces PrisonMar 10, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
A human tissue broker has entered a guilty plea and faces prison time for mail fraud, the News Observer reported. Philip Joe Guyett, 41, could end up in prison for 60 years for three counts of mail fraud, which arose from claims he created false identities for tissue donors in order to hide their diseases, said the News Observer. Guyett is scheduled for sentencing on June 1 and remains free on bail pending sentencing.
Guyett, who ran Donor Referral Services, was charged with falsifying blood samples "for tissue he knew would be otherwise rejected for purchase because the presence of infectious or communicable diseases would be detected in the donor blood sample," quoted the News Observer. Donor Referral Services was shut down in 2006. Prosecutors said Guyett lied about deceased donor information including age, cause of death, and medical histories, said News Observer, noting that information such as if donors suffered from communicable diseases was also hidden. Now, donated parts used in over 1.5 million procedures such as knee reconstructions, heart valve repairs, and skin grafts, could be diseased or contain contagions, said the News Observer.
Guyett, who is not believed to be a flight risk, moved to California and claims he did nothing wrong and is being targeted by the government. It seems, said the News Observer, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not maintain clarity around tissue trade procedures and record keeping.
Meanwhile, in September, the Associated Press (AP) broke with news about Michael Mastromarino of New Jersey, who made millions by heading a body trafficking scam that involved stealing hundreds of bodies and selling body parts and tissue to medical companies. Two brothers—Louis and Gerald Garzone—who ran a funeral home and crematorium involved in the body trafficking scheme admitted they sold cadavers as part of the fraudulent operation. Tissue and body parts were often diseased, previously rejected, and often left unrefrigerated for days, pending harvesting.
Prior to setting up shop in Raleigh, Guyett pleaded no contest to a felony charge in California for taking payment for human tissue belonging to a university donor program he ran. This means that Guyett received FDA approval despite having a felony record. Police also raided a warehouse used by Guyett and discovered three freezers containing human heads and hearts, said the News Observor. Likewise, Mastromario was also involved in an earlier body theft and selling scam, pleading guilty to enterprise corruption, body stealing, and reckless endangerment in New York where he was sentenced to 18 to 54 years in prison.
Like Mastromario, Guyett collaborated with funeral home operators, paying finder fees for information on potential donors, with one manager admitting to allowing Guyett to harvest bone, ligaments, tendons, and skin from cadavers under unsterilized conditions.
"Philip Guyett chose to tell lies in a matter as sensitive as the implantation of tissue into medical patients across the country, all to make a quick buck. This flagrant and selfish disregard for the safety and health of the citizens of this country simply will not be tolerated," said U.S. Attorney George Holding, wrote Cleveland.com. Regardless, Guyett continues to remain free on bail.
Some patients have voiced concerns, including one woman who and has suffered from unexplained rashes, weight loss, and poor health ever since undergoing bone graft surgery, said Cleveland.com.