DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A judge has set a Feb. 21 trial for a Detroit-area man charged with supplying diseased body parts for medical training — although a plea deal could be reached before that date.
Arthur Rathburn appeared in federal court Friday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Wyse told a judge that there are ongoing negotiations with Rathburn and his lawyer about a plea agreement.READ MORE: Here's A List Of Warming Centers Open Across The City Of Detroit
The government says the Grosse Pointe Park man operated International Biological Inc., which rented out body parts — including heads and torsos — for medical or dental training.
According to U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, Rathburn and his wife worked as cadaver dealers, obtaining donated bodies through deceit and then distributing them while ignoring industry standard precautions.
The unusual business was legal, but Rathburn is accused of making false statements and transporting hazardous materials.
As alleged in the 13-count indictment, Rathburn didn’t use industry standard equipment, but instead used a chainsaw to dismember the bodies, and then stacked diseased human heads on top of other heads, disregarding any risk of cross-contamination.READ MORE: Kellogg Workers Reject Tentative Labor Deal, Vote To Stay On Strike
Investigators say some body parts came from people who had HIV or hepatitis B.
In one 2012 instance, the indictment details, he allegedly shipped, on a Delta cargo plane, an infected head wrapped in a garbage bag and packed in a camping cooler, falsely claiming it had been embalmed. Seven other human heads, along with large quantities of blood, were also part of the shipment and packed in the same unsafe and illegal manner, according to the indictment.
Rathburn’s wife, Elizabeth Rathburn, pleaded guilty to fraud in March and awaits her sentence.MORE NEWS: Nick Cannon Mourns Loss Of His Youngest Child To Brain Tumor
TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.