Gary Dudek, 54, a skin graft sales representative working for Organogenesis was arrested on Monday for theft and tampering with records, reportedly stealing an estimated $357,000 worth of lab-grown skin from Mercy Philadelphia Hospital. Dudek managed accounts for the hospital’s bioscience department, where he was able to order these artificial skin grafts for that hospital on a whim.
Although the hospital reported it only needed three skin grafts in stock at a time, Dudek allegedly ordered over 200 human skin grafts over an almost three year period, between November 2011 and July 2013. His motive is yet unknown to Philadelphia police, who are taking case to criminal court. Dudek posted 10 percent of the $10,000 bail and was released Tuesday.
Organogenesis is a Massachusetts-based regenerative medicine firm that employed Dudek as a tissue-regeneration specialist, or a sales representative, from September 2006 to September 2013. This was the period in which Dudek stole over $350,000 worth of human skin from the Philadelphia hospital. Organogenesis, among other products, engineers Apligraf, a product that mimics human skin made of collagen and skin cells.
Skin-grafts are used to cover skin that has been damaged by burns, large infections, diseases and wounds in patients, among its multitude of uses. Angelyn Lowe, director of corporate communications at Organogenesis, said they don’t buy or sell skin-grafts. Instead, they make products such as Apligraf, a living cell-based product, which is mainly used to treat diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers.
“We’re known as the most ethical company in the business,” said Lowe. Dudek was authorized to order these grafts according to court records with an “open purchase order.” Each skin graft was valued at $1,700.
Lowe said Dudek had no use for the skin. However, when hospital employees were conducting record checks in the bioscience department, he was allegedly seen twice on surveillance cameras putting skin-grafts into his car from the hospital. Dudek’s lawyer, Eugene Tinari asked in a statement “what would he want skin grafts for?” Investigators suspect that Dudek was trying to make commission off sales.
Tinari believes the issue should be settled in civil court, rather than in criminal court. “If Mercy Hospital has suffered losses and they can be deemed to be as a result of Mr. Dudek’s actions,” he stated, “then perhaps a civil suit could have been initiated.”
Tinari went on to state “…to take this 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,” and that Dudek had done “nothing that amounts to criminality.”
News outlets could not reach Mercy Philadelphia Hospital for comment due to the ongoing investigation. Organogensis has not commented on why Dudek left the medicine company in September 2013. Tinari has said that Dudek’s departure from Organogenesis was a “mutual parting of ways” based on the skin grafts of Mercy Philadelphia Hospital.
Dudek’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 10. He will face charges of tampering with records and theft, which amounts to over $350,000 worth of skin stolen by the sales representative from the Philadelphia hospital.
By Jesse Eells-Adams