Evidence OK’d against Grosse Pointe man in bodies probe

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Detroit — A federal judge has refused to throw out evidence against a Grosse Pointe Park man who is charged in an investigation of hazardous body parts used for research.

Arthur Rathburn challenged searches of his warehouse at 8640 Grinnell. But Judge Paul Borman said Tuesday the FBI made “significant efforts” to justify a search.

The judge says investigators relied on credible witnesses, including two people who worked with Rathburn and a professional who heard him speak at a conference.

Rathburn is charged with nine counts of wire fraud, three charges of making false statements, and one charge of transporting hazardous material. The indictment says he falsely claimed eight human heads shipped in 2012 had been embalmed, yet human blood was found in the coolers.

Rathburn operated International Biological Inc., which rented out body parts for medical or dental training.

Federal agents say they searched the Grinnell warehouse Dec. 6, 2013, as part of a nationwide multi-year investigation into certain so-called “Body Brokers,” which allegedly buy and sell human cadavers, body parts, and tissue.

His wife, Elizabeth Rathburn, pleaded to one count of wire fraud in March. She will pay more than $55,000 in restitution and could serve four to 10 months in prison. Her sentencing is Nov. 15 before Borman.

Rathburn faces 20 years in prison on each count. He is in federal detention in Milan.