Local News

Ex-body parts supplier sent to prison for scam

Posted October 5, 2009
Updated October 8, 2009

— A former Raleigh resident who falsified the medical histories of cadavers so he could sell their tissue for transplants was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison.

Philip Joe Guyett Jr., 42, who also was ordered to pay a $103,000 fine, was immediately taken into custody. He pleaded guilty in March to three counts of mail fraud.

"I should have never gotten into the field," Guyett said before sentencing. "I was in debt. I thought I knew the right thing to do. I made very bad decisions in the end. I don't want to hurt anybody. No one wants that."

Prosecutors asked for a seven-year prison term, but U.S. District Judge Earl Britt handed down the longer sentence to deter others from similar scams.

Federal investigators said Guyett received $3,000 to $7,000 for each body he harvested. They argued that he changed the medical histories of cadavers and falsified blood samples to hide evidence of disease or drug use, trying to ensure the risky tissue wouldn't be rejected.

Jennifer Steinbeck said that, after her father died of cancer, Guyett promised her the body would be used for cancer research. Instead, she said, tissues from her father's body were sent to patients.

"He took my father's body, chopped it up and distributed his body parts," a tearful Steinbeck said in court. "Please put him away. That's a monster. That's not human."

Prosecutors say that Guyett's tissue operation, Donor Referral Services Inc., produced 2,600 human tissue products, with 785 of those implanted into humans. They argue that 127 patients received tissue from donors with questionable medical histories and at least one victim contracted a staph infection that his doctor believes was linked to Guyett's unsanitary procurement of tissue.

More than a dozen people who either received suspect tissue or were related to patients who received tissue attended the sentencing hearing in Raleigh federal court. One woman twice shouted "Butcher!" at Guyett.

Betty Overtree, of Fort Battle, Ga., who received some tissue during a 2004 operation, said she was rushed back to the hospital five days later because of an infection. She spoke to Britt from wheelchair during the sentencing hearing.

"What devastates me is I can't do what I used to," Overtree said. "If it was a natural process, that's one thing, but ... it's just ruined my life."

Federal regulators shut down Donor Referral Services in 2006, citing inaccurate paperwork and poor record-keeping.

Guyett said after pleading guilty that he took short cuts to get rid of the tissue assuming that checks and balances in the processing of the body parts would catch any problems. He said he's offering to help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration strengthen oversight of the vocation he called "vitally important to the medical industry in our country."

Guyett, who now lives in Simi Valley, Calif., has said he is working in metal recycling.

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  • needlebug Oct 6, 2009

    A more appropriate punishment: have him give up his liver for a needy individual and him get a diseased one.

  • wcb2 Oct 6, 2009

    This guy is regular Dr. Frankenstein... He goes from recycling humans to recycling metal?

  • Capt Mercury Oct 6, 2009

    This whole thing really stinks of capitalistic greed and governmental complacency. Why was the prosecutor only going for 6 years? Sounds like this guy had contacts in government. It's no surprise this scam artist is now in the "metal recycling" business. So many "recyclers" are really just toxic waste disposers. How much you wanna bet the metals he recycles most are lead, mercury, and other poisons? America, we really have to start being honest again!!!

  • CalvinCat Oct 6, 2009

    I bet this costs them an arm and a leg.

  • howdiditgettothis Oct 5, 2009

    Um - brewmonkey, did you read the story?

    This guy basically body-shopped body-parts that were diseased, procured by unscrupulous means, and made a ton of money doing it.

    Do you honestly believe only 1 person was affected by this?

    I hope they are able to sue him in civil court for punitive damages, and that he doesn't continue to move around the country professing to "do no damage to anyone".......

    A necro-socio-path if you ask me.

  • itsmyownopinion Oct 5, 2009

    He should get 60 years. This is just too creepy.

  • ljs1947 Oct 5, 2009

    Well, heck-- I've donated my body to a medical school-- I picked a particular one because they were charged with sending bodies they did not use to the Caribbean (not sure why that was bad) and I figured that would be the only way I would ever get to go to the Caribbean!-- If I let this guy have it-- no telling the places I could have gone!-- free travel.

  • sandygayle77 Oct 5, 2009

    Brewmonkey is a right wing capitalism zombie. Greed is good. This guy was just providing a valuable service for only 3,000 to 7,000 bucks per body. He's got a heart of gold.

    Unregulated Capitalism sure is the way to go.

  • dbcooper41 Oct 5, 2009

    i see what you mean brewmonkey. he is certainly a true humanitarian!! perhaps a nobel prize would be more fitting.
    unless of course it was your loved one who received questionable "parts".
    and i suppose those who thought they were donating their loved ones' bodies for the good of science might have been a bit peeved that it was all for the good of some lowlife scammer looking for an easy buck.
    and apparently there are lousy records on how this stuff is used. they really don't know how many people might have been hurt.

  • brewmonkey Oct 5, 2009

    wow. 785 people helped. one person sick, and not proven that it came from his actions. no one dead. 60 years.

    sounds like another case of media overreaction to me.

    (no one will see this. every time i mention that the media is creating, rather than reporting, the new, angela likes to censor me.)

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