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Judge rejects plea for former physician

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

U.S. Judge Philip Simon in the Northern District of Indiana rejected a plea agreement on April 27 for former physician Mark Weinberger, who faces at least 22 criminal counts of billing insurers and patients for procedures he didn’t perform.

The District’s chief judge set aside the plea agreement that would have bound him to sentence the doctor to four years in prison, rather than a sentence coming closer to the maximum on all charges totaling more than 200 years. Judge Simon said he wasn’t confident the deal took into full account the scope of the criminal conduct Weinberger engaged in, which prosecutors say totals about $318,000 in damages.

Weinberger is accused of billing fraud that took place between November 2002 and September 2004, while he was running the Merrillville Center for Advanced Surgery LLC and Nose and Sinus Center LLC. Some concerns about potential malpractice began surfacing toward the end of that period when one patient died in September 2004. Days later, the doctor disappeared during a family trip to Greece, and he was on the run for more than five years.

Claims from former patients mounted and the sinus specialist was featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” He was eventually found hiding in a tent about 6,000 feet above sea level in the Italian Alps. He stabbed himself in the neck with a knife before finally being extradited from Italy to the United States on federal criminal health care fraud charges in December 2009.

While he faced 22 federal criminal counts of billing fraud, Weinberger has also been battling hundreds of medical malpractice claims filed against him and $5.7 million in creditor claims.

Federal court docket records show that many of Weinberger’s former patients urged Judge Simon to reject the plea deal they described as being too lenient.

A status hearing is set for May 12.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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