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Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility

August 1, 2019

PHOENIX (AP) — A former FBI agent has provided gruesome details from a January 2014 raid of a now-closed body donation facility in Phoenix whose owner later pleaded guilty to a felony charge for his role in mishandling donated body parts.

Few details of the weeklong search of Biological Resource Center were publicly revealed five years ago when FBI employees wearing hazardous-material gear raided the facility.

But retired FBI Agent Mark Cwynar provided a description in May as part of a lawsuit against Biological Resource Center and other companies alleging fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and intentional mishandling of bodily remains.

Cwynar said in court records that he saw many male torsos without limbs or genitalia, a bucket of heads, a cooler filled with male penises, and body parts throughout the facility that had no identification saying which bodies they came from.

“I observed a large torso with the head removed and replaced with a smaller head sewn together in a ‘Frankenstein’ manner,” Cwynar said.

The lawsuit, filed by dozens of people whose deceased loved ones’ bodies were donated, said FBI employees involved in the raid required trauma therapy because of the graphic scene they witnessed.

The lawsuit alleges people who donated their deceased relatives’ bodies were deceived when they were assured the bodies would be treated with dignity and used for medical research projects, when some of the bodies were actually sold to the Department of Defense.

“These bodies were literally used as crash test dummies, which meant they were used in experiments involving exposures to destructive forces, e.g. impacts, crashes, ballistic injuries and blasts,” the lawsuit said.

Jim Stauffer, one of the plaintiffs, told Phoenix television station ABC15 that his mother’s body was used for military testing.

“She was then supposedly strapped in a chair on some sort of apparatus, and a detonation took place underneath her to basically kind of get an idea of what the human body goes through when a vehicle is hit by an IED,” Stauffer told the television station.

In earlier filings, company owner Stephen Gore had denied the allegations within the lawsuit.

Gore pleaded guilty in October 2015 to a state charge of illegally conducting an enterprise. In his criminal case, he acknowledged his firm provided vendors with human tissue that was contaminated and used in ways that went against the wishes of the donors.

In a letter to the sentencing judge, Gore said he should have been more involved in the supervision of his employees and could have been more open about the donation process on his company’s brochure.

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