Woman in body parts business pleads guilty

By Ed White
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit-area woman charged in a body parts probe pleaded guilty Monday to fraud, admitting she falsely told a customer that human remains for medical training were free of infectious diseases.

The government says Arthur Rathburn and his wife Elizabeth Rathburn of Grosse Pointe Park operated International Biological Inc., which rented out body parts for medical or dental training.

Elizabeth Rathburn struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, about two months after the two were indicted. She didn't disclose in an email that remains provided for a 2012 meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Washington, D.C., had tested positive for hepatitis B and HIV.

Investigators don't believe anyone became ill.

Elizabeth Rathburn, 56, faces less than a year in prison but cooperation with prosecutors could get her a better sentence on July 18. Arthur Rathburn is charged with fraud and making false statements. His case is pending, along with their divorce.

"She will assist the government with any knowledge that she has," defense attorney Jeremy Henner said. "Her life has been ruined largely in part because of her association with Mr. Rathburn."

Arthur Rathburn is accused of fraud, making false statements and transporting hazardous materials. The indictment says he falsely claimed eight human heads shipped in 2012 had been embalmed, yet human blood was found in the coolers. He has pleaded not guilty.

Published: Wed, Mar 23, 2016