The medical examiner’s office that conducted the highly questionable autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein is a corrupt mess, plagued with ‘errors’ including: secretly removing brains and organs from corpses, losing bodies, mistakingly cremating bodies and burying the wrong people in the wrong graves.
“Their conduct has been totally outrageous and callous towards people who have suffered tragedy,” said Paul Weitz, a lawyer for the mother of Vasean Alleyne, 11, who was killed by a drunken driver in Queens. Months after Vasean’s burial, she read his autopsy report and was shocked to learn the ME had kept his brain and spinal cord.
The ME’s Office, with 625 employees and a $63.6 million budget, has a history of criminality, waste and incompetence.
Insiders cite a spate of mind-boggling blunders as evidence the agency is badly managed:
In June 2013, it was reported the ME crew stuffing the body of Bronx hit-and-run victim Kevin Bell, 26, into a van loaded with grimy bags of recyclables.
The ME’s Office has removed brains and other organs from bodies without telling the next of kin who retrieve them for burial.
Body handling is also botched. The city Department of Investigation says it is now probing the “custody and release of deceased individuals.”
Last weekend, a New York woman had to be dug out of a grave in New Jersey after her body was released to the wrong funeral home.
Last September, the ME’s Office lost the body of a 71-year-old Upper West Side woman. It dug up 300 graves in a Bronx potter’s field in a failed attempt to find her remains.
The office recently sent the wrong man’s body to a crematorium — twice.
In April, it gave a Bronx man’s body to a Manhattan mortuary school, where it was embalmed by students, his family learned.
In June, it mistakenly shipped Aura Ballesteros, 85, to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for anatomy classes, while her son, Hector Lopez, made funeral arrangements.
Her body was returned three days later — with embalming devices attached, blood spatters and stitches on her lips and neck.
“It was terrible mistake and caused me so much trauma added to her death,” said Lopez, who has hired civil-rights lawyer Sanford Rubenstein to sue.
The ME’s former chief of management information systems, Natarajan “Raju” Venkataram, and his co-worker girlfriend, Rosa Abreu, were busted for embezzling more than $9 million from a $11.4 million FEMA grant meant to track and identify remains of 9/11 victims.
And bosses take lavish taxpayer-funded trips to conferences and symposiums.
Frank DePaolo, assistant commissioner for emergency management, has traveled to Las Vegas, the Hague, Hong Kong and Israel. Chief of Staff Barbara Butcher has gone to Croatia and Thailand.
Days after 9/11, Butcher took home a Ground Zero souvenir — a jet exit-door handle she remarked would “make for good conversation on the coffee table,” a witness reported. READ MORE: