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Michigan Woman Sentenced for Fraud Scheme Involving the Distribution of Infectious Human Remains

On March 13, 2018, Elizabeth Rathburn, former manager of International Biological, Inc. (IBI), was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Detroit, Michigan, for her role in a fraud scheme involving the distribution of infectious human remains. She was sentenced to 24 months’ probation and a joint restitution amount of $55,225.83, with co-defendant Arthur Rathburn, to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Elizabeth Rathburn pleaded guilty to wire fraud in March 2016 following her indictment for the fraud scheme. 

The investigation disclosed that, between January 2007 and December 2013, the Rathburns defrauded buyers of “willed to science” cadaver parts. The Rathburns obtained bodies and body parts from suppliers, which IBI would dismember before renting them out to customers for medical or dental training. On more than one occasion, the Rathburns withheld medical facts surrounding the deaths of certain donors, failed to inform customers that some body parts were considered infectious, and falsely represented the body parts as disease free. 

Specifically, Elizabeth Rathburn admitted that in October 2012, she provided an IBI customer with remains she misrepresented as free of certain infectious diseases. She not only knew the remains had tested positive for HIV and hepatitis B, but also that the customer would not have accepted infectious remains for medical research and training.

DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with the FBI with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.