FBI raids crematorium and body donation centre in suburban Chicago

CHICAGO – A three-day FBI raid of a suburban Chicago crematorium and an affiliated company that arranges the donation of human remains was wrapping up Thursday, authorities said, but they refused to disclose what led to the search or what evidence was seized.

Search warrants were filed under seal in Michigan, an indication that the raids at Cremation Services in Schiller Park and the Rosemont office of Biological Resource Center of Illinois could be connected to a multistate investigation into companies that collect and distribute bodies that have been donated for scientific study.

“This is an active investigation, and as such, I am unable to provide any information beyond confirming the execution of the search warrants,” said FBI Detroit spokesman David K. Porter. No criminal charges have been filed, authorities said.

Attorney Dave Weisman, who represents Biological Resource Center of Illinois, said he believes the raids are part of an investigation of two companies in other states that also arrange cadaver donations, but aren’t owned by his client. Investigators raided facilities in Michigan and Arizona in 2013 and 2014.

Cadaver donation companies distribute donated remains to universities, medical device manufacturers and drug companies, which pay the associated costs and use the bodies for medical education and research. Families save the cost of burial or cremation.

Weisman said his client is co-operating with authorities and the company remained open for business. He released a statement from Biological Resource Center of Illinois pledging to “serve our donor-families and clients with the highest level of integrity and standard of care, as we have done over the last two decades.”

Following the raid of the Arizona body donation facility, public health authorities warned former employees that they might have been exposed to infectious diseases while handling bodies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in May that it was investigating reports of exposure to HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and tuberculosis.