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Weinberger sentenced to 84 months in prison

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A judge on Friday rejected former Merrillville "nose doctor" Mark Weinberger’s request to be released from federal prison for time served and instead ordered him to spend almost another four years behind bars for fraud.

Chief Judge Philip Simon of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond sentenced Weinberger to seven years in prison for 22 counts of health care benefit fraud to which Weinberger, 49, pleaded guilty. Weinberger already has spent about 37 months in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

The sentence exceeded the 37 to 46 months called for in federal sentencing guidelines, but Simon also considered Weinberger’s flight from the country as an enhancement, according to attorneys who were in court for the sentencing. The former ear, nose and throat doctor spent more than five years on the run after malpractice claims against him began to mount.

“I think that the judge considered the most important factor and that is something I’ve been living with for eight or nine years, and that is the mess he left in his wake,” said Cohen & Malad attorney David Cutshaw, who is part of a team of litigators representing 288 Weinberger malpractice clients.

Weinberger also will serve two years of supervised release and was ordered to pay about $108,000 in restitution.

Attorneys representing medical malpractice claims against Weinberger on Tuesday submitted a letter to the court that challenged claims in his sentencing memorandum in which he asked the court to be released for time served, as it fell within sentencing guidelines. The memorandum said “no credible evidence exists to indicate that Dr. Weinberger performed fraud in any other case other than the 22 cases for which he has been indicted and for which he had pled guilty.”

The letter in response said that assertion caused “great concern” because “of the 90 cases we have submitted to medical review panels, including the seven we have tried, we have yet to identify a single case in which Weinberger performed the ethmoid and sphenoid surgeries he billed for.”

Barry Rooth of Theodoros & Rooth P.C. in Merrillville, which also is involved in the bulk of malpractice litigation, said the letter aimed to give voice to victims whose cases weren’t considered in Weinberger’s criminal case.

“Our intent was to provide the prosecutor and the U.S. attorney with additional materials which we believe would increase the economic loss of similarly situated patients to a number that would constitute (sentence) enhancement,” Rooth said before sentencing Friday.

There are more than 350 medical malpractice claims against Weinberger, and his insurer recently won a default judgment against him because he has refused to answer questions in depositions. A federal judge is considering a request from the Indiana Patient Compensation Fund that a special master be appointed to handle the pool of Weinberger claims.

Rooth said patients would like to hear Weinberger at least acknowledge in depositions that he was their doctor, and he has vowed as a condition of his sentencing to answer questions about the cases against him.

“We’d love to hear what he has to say for himself,” Rooth said.
 

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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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