NEW York mortuary technicians were caught on camera turning cadavers and body parts into macabre playthings.
The New York Post reported today grinning employees used corpses as props in dozens of disturbing Polaroid snapshots.
One photo showed mortuary technician Kaihl Brassfield holding a severed head in a classic Heisman Trophy football pose.
"It was stupid," Mr Brassfield, 35, said.
"It was just the culture there. Everyone was doing it.”
The pictures, some undated and others from 2004, show Mr Brassfield and unidentified co-workers posing.
"It was foolish," he conceded.
"Now I'm older. It stopped."
Mr Brassfield, a $35,000-a-year ($39,382) technician at the Brooklyn morgue at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) was out of work due to a disability but was suspended without pay after the photos emerged.
He said that for several years everyone working in the Staten Island and Brooklyn morgues, from police to coroners, participated in the gory games.
But in recent years, after the OCME took over from the Health and Hospitals Corp, staff became more professional.
"We are looking into the allegations," said OCME spokeswoman Ellen Borakove.
"This is the antithesis of the mission of our agency to always treat families and decedents with the utmost respect and sensitivity."
The probe by the office's inspector-general began after queries were made about the photos. The city's department of investigation then began interviewing OCME employees.
Mr Brassfield said the photos were stolen in November and he received blackmail calls in December, but refused to pay.