Body Parts Allegedly Sold

Drawing of human body, highlighting the lungs, trachea and bronchii, 10-25-01
Two people, including the man who oversees the cadaver program at the University of California, Los Angeles, have been arrested in connection with the alleged theft of body parts from the school.

Henry Reid, director of the UCLA program that makes donated bodies available for medical education and research, was arrested Saturday for investigation of grand theft for allegedly selling corpses and body parts for profit.

Reid, 54, who was hired in 1997 to improve the school's record keeping of the donated cadavers, was released on $20,000 bail. He has declined to comment.

The university plans to comment on the case at a news conference on Monday.

On Sunday, Ernest Nelson was arrested for investigation of receiving stolen property, according to a university statement. The school said Nelson was not a UCLA employee. Nelson, 46, was jailed on $30,000 bail.

Authorities would say little about the case, but Nelson told the Los Angeles Times that for six years he acted as a "middle man" who would retrieve body parts from the UCLA Medical School's freezer and sell them to large research companies. He said he did so with the knowledge of UCLA employees, including Reid.

"I call one of the most prestigious universities in the world, their director gives me the protocol, I follow that protocol and they charge me with receiving stolen body parts?" the Times quoted Nelson as saying.

UCLA attorney Louis Marlin denied that other school officials were involved. He said Nelson paid for the body parts he took with cashier's checks made out to Reid.

UCLA planned to seek felony charges against Reid, said Nancy Greenstein of the university police department.

Former California Gov. George Deukmejian agreed Friday to oversee a reform of the program, which was one of the first in the nation when it was established in 1950.

The cadaver program receives about 175 bodies each year for medical research and education. The program first came under scrutiny in 1993 when hazardous medical waste was discovered inside boxes of cremated human remains.