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Scandal at UC-Irvine Cadaver Plan

September 18, 1999

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) _ The University of California, Irvine, fired the director of its Willed Body Program after an audit revealed sloppy record keeping and possible profiting from the sale of body parts donated for research.

The investigation is continuing with officials trying to determine whether careless bookkeeping resulted in cremated remains being returned to the wrong relatives.

UC Irvine medical school officials announced Friday they had fired Christopher Brown, 27. He had been director since May 1996 and was paid about $33,000 a year.

School officials said they became suspicious after finding an expense account item in which Brown charged the university for a trip to Phoenix.

Brown sold six spines to an Arizona research program and received a $5,000 check made out to University Medical Services, an organization that UC Irvine officials say they do not recognize, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Brown denied wrongdoing.

``I’ve never done anything that would be deemed unethical or anything that wasn’t done by the university’s procedures,″ he said Friday. ``I’ve done everything the way I was trained or taught to do. ... They can’t prove I did anything wrong.″

Administrators said Brown kept few and incomplete records. A computer virus has destroyed most of the records on his office computer, said Thomas Cesario, dean of the UC Irvine College of Medicine.

The program has been operating since the medical school opened in 1967. It accepts about 75 donated cadavers annually.

The university has stopped accepting cadavers while it reorganizes the Willed Body Program.

University officials have asked the Orange County district attorney’s office to investigate.

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