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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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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