Prison Term for Removing Fingerprints

17 02 2008

US surgeon gets 18 months in prison for removing fingerprints

By MARC LEVY

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania – A plastic surgeon who replaced the fingerprints of a drug ring member with skin from the bottom of his feet was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison.

Judge Yvette Kane called Dr. Jose Covarrubias’ crime “horrific.”

Covarrubias, a U.S. citizen who lived in the border town of Nogales, Arizona, and practiced in Mexico, pleaded guilty Nov. 1 to a federal charge of harboring and concealing a fugitive.

The case was bizarre even to prosecutors, who did not believe the stories of drug ring operatives without fingerprints, until Marc George was arrested in September 2005 at the Nogales border crossing with Mexico, bandaged and limping badly from the painful procedure.

Covarrubias was indicted in May. Prosecutors say the drug ring moved cash and drugs from Tucson and elsewhere and distributed more than a ton of it in central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and other areas.

Covarrubias, 50, apologized to Kane for his conduct, and said he had learned his lesson. He has been jailed for 10 months and can be released in eight months. He then faces three years of probation.

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