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World Dec. 15, 2017

Companies admit illegal fetal tissue sales, end Calif. business

By Kevin Jones

Two companies accused of illegally selling cells from fetal brain tissue have reached a settlement with the Orange County district attorney's office. (Gagliardi Images / Shutterstock)

ORANGE, Calif., (CNA)—The trade in fetal tissue from aborted babies has proved costly for two bioscience companies who will admit fault, cease California operations, and meet the terms of a $7.8-million legal settlement for violating state and federal laws against the purchase or sale of fetal tissue.

“This settlement seized all profits from DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences, which they acquired by viewing body parts as a commodity and illegally selling fetal tissues for valuable consideration,” said Orange County district attorney Tony Rackauckas. “These companies will never be able to operate again in Orange County or the state of California.”

The Yorba Linda-based DV Biologics LLC and its sister company DaVinci Biosciences LLC reached the settlement with the Orange County district attorney’s office, The Los Angeles Times reports. Prosecutors began their investigation in September 2015 after the California-based Center for Medical Progress filed a complaint.

David Daleiden, project lead for the Center for Medical Progress, helped run undercover investigative reports into the illicit sale of body parts and tissue from unborn babies at Planned Parenthood clinics, fetal tissue companies, and leaders in the abortion industry.

“The DaVinci companies’ admission of guilt for selling baby parts from Planned Parenthood is a ringing vindication of (the Center for Medical Progress’) citizen journalism methods and accuracy,” said Daleiden.

“In light of the news that Planned Parenthood is now under federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for the sale of fetal body parts, the next step is for Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties to be held accountable under the law for their seven-year-long aiding, abetting, and profiting in DaVinci’s criminal scheme to sell baby parts for profit,” he added.

The prosecutors’ complaint was filed in October 2016 in Orange County Superior Court, charging that the defendants’ business practices were unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent.

The companies were accused of illegally selling cells from fetal brain tissue for up to $1,100 per vial, in at least 500 sales, between 2009 and 2015. Sales brought in more than $1.5 million from 2013 to 2015. Tissue was acquired from Planned Parenthood and other sources, The Orange County Register reported.

Beginning in 2009, the companies hired marketing consultants and launched an advertising campaign with summer sales and promotional discounts on fetal tissue.

State and federal law only allow charges for the processing and shipping of fetal tissue. Sale of tissue for profit is illegal.

Other defendants in the case were company principals Estefano Isaias Sr., Estefano Isaias Jr. and Andres Isaias.

Little of the $7.785 million settlement will be in cash, however. DV Biologics will pay the county $195,000. About $7.5 million of the settlement is the estimated scientific value of donated adult biological samples.

The defendants will donate adult samples, tissues, and cells to a nonprofit academic and scientific teaching institution affiliated with a major U.S. medical school whose name prosecutors did not disclose. They will also donate and transfer lab storage containers and equipment.

DaVinci Biosciences focuses on medical research for spinal injuries, sports injuries, and degenerative diseases. DV Biologics provides human tissue to research facilities.

The companies’ purchasers included academic institutions and pharmaceutical businesses in Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, and the U.K.

Documents from financier George Soros’ Open Society Foundations were posted to the site DCLeaks.com last year, which appeared to show Planned Parenthood’s allies and funders engaged in a multi-million dollar damage control campaign to counter the fallout from the videos.

The document, apparently written weeks after the July 2015 release of the first Center for Medical Progress videos, cited a need to defend the reputation and credibility of the provider and to defend it against potential loss of federal funding.