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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Gary Dudek Charged With Stealing $357,000 Worth Of Human Skin

     Gary Dudek, a resident of Wallingford, a suburban community outside of Philadelphia, from September 2006 to September 2013, worked for a Massachusetts based company called Organogeness. As a sales representative and "tissue-regeneration specialist," Mr. Dudek had allegedly been given a so-called "open purchase order" that authorized him to acquire human skin grafts from Mercy Philadelphia Hospital.

     During the period November 2011 to July 2013, Gary Dudek ordered 219 human skin grafts from Mercy Philadelphia Hospital. According to hospital administrators, each graft is worth $1,700, money the medical facility has not been paid.

     On Monday, May 26, 2014, detectives with the Philadelphia Police Department took the 54-year-old suspected skin thief into custody. According to reports, Mr. Dudek had been caught twice on a surveillance camera taking skin grafts from Mercy Philadelphia Hospital to his car. Officers booked him into the city jail on charges of theft, receiving stolen property, and tampering with records. He quickly posted his $10,000 bond, and was released.

     Following the accusations in this unusual theft case, a spokesperson for the suspect's former employer, Organogeneness, told reporters that the firm is not in the business of buying or selling human skin grafts. (Skin grafts or patches are used mainly as replacements for serious infections, burns, or wounds.) According to this corporate spokesperson, the company has developed a product called Apligraf, an organic material made of collagen and skin cells that is designed to mimic human skin.

     Mr. Dudek's attorney, Eugene Tinari, in speaking to a television reporter with a local NBC affiliate, said, "If Mercy Hospital has suffered losses they deem to be a result of Mr. Dudek's actions, then perhaps a civil suit could have been initiated. But to take this case into the criminal arena against a man who has been nothing but hard working and law abiding his entire life is a bit draconian, in my view."

     A preliminary hearing in the Dudek case is scheduled for June 10, 2014. Law enforcement authorities have not revealed what the suspect did with the 219 skin grafts. Did he sell them? If so, to whom? And for how much? 

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