January 22, 2018
Michigan Man Convicted in Fraud Scheme Involving Distribution of Infectious Human Remains
On January 22, 2018, Arthur Rathburn, former president, International Biological, Inc. (IBI), Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, was convicted by a jury trial in U.S. District Court, Detroit, for a scheme involving the distribution of body parts infected with HIV and hepatitis, among other diseases. The infectious body parts were sent to unsuspecting customers who had requested cadavers for research. The jury found Rathburn guilty of seven counts of wire fraud and one count of illegal transportation of hazardous material.
Rathburn and his former wife, Elizabeth Rathburn, were indicted in January 2016. The indictment alleged that between January 2007 and December 2013, the Rathburns participated in a scheme to defraud buyers of “willed to science” donor cadaver parts. They obtained whole bodies and body parts from suppliers, which IBI would typically dismember before renting them out to customers for medical or dental training. On more than one occasion, the Rathburns withheld medical facts surrounding the death of certain donors, failed to inform customers that some body parts were considered infectious, and falsely represented that the body parts were disease free.
In addition, Arthur Rathburn willfully caused hazardous materials to be transported in violation of Federal regulations, when he illegally shipped a human head from an individual whose death was caused by bacterial sepsis and aspiration pneumonia. The head was presented to Delta Cargo for transportation in air commerce without proper packaging, labeling, or markings to indicate the shipment contained biological substances.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.