Law firm disputes Weinberger assertion he didn’t commit more fraud
By Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org October 10, 2012 4:48PM
Updated: November 12, 2012 11:57AM
A local law firm is disputing claims by former Merrillville nose doctor Mark Weinberger that there is no evidence he committed more health care fraud outside of the 22 cases to which he has already pleaded guilty.
Lawyers with the firm Theodoros & Rooth P.C. filed a letter Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, directing it to the probation office that handled Weinberger’s sentencing report.
Weinberger, who has admitted to billing insurance companies for surgeries he never performed, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.
The letter addresses comments made in Weinberger’s sentencing memorandum, filed Monday, that claim there is no evidence he committed more than 22 cases of health care fraud. The law firm is representing about 90 civil malpractice cases against Weinberger, seven of which have gone to trial. All those cases, the letter says, involve patients on whom Weinberger claimed to have performed specific surgeries but never did.
“Our expert witnesses have consistently rendered opinions that Weinberger did not perform the sinus surgeries for which he billed his patients and their insurance companies,” the letter says. “More significantly, these opinions are confirmed by and in accord with sworn testimony from ... Weinberger’s own expert witnesses.”
Federal sentencing guidelines usually factor in the number of victims and the amount of loss, meaning more victims and a higher loss amount could increase Weinberger’s sentencing range.
The law firm also disputes another claim in the sentencing memorandum that said Weinberger always set aside an hour for each surgery. “We have yet to identify a single case where that was true,” the letter says, adding that surgery notes show most lasted about 15 to 20 minutes. It added that one of Weinberger’s own witnesses said these surgeries could only be completed in an hour with a “hand grenade.”
The firm says it has never been approached by anyone connected with Weinberger’s criminal case or else it would have provided this information earlier.
“Simply put, the undersigned feel that it is our collective duty to make the above report given that we are in possession of evidence, including Weinberger’s own medical records and testimony from his own expert witnesses and unaffiliated third-parties that contradict his statements in his sentencing memorandum,” the letter says.
This is not the first time someone has disputed the amount of Weinberger’s criminal activities. The first plea agreement that he reached with federal attorneys was derailed in 2011 when Anthem Insurance Co. claimed to have more than 50 cases of insurance fraud from Weinberger. U.S. District Judge Philip Simon expressed concern about these possible extra cases and dismissed the agreement that would have sentenced Weinberger to four years in prison.
He eventually reached a second agreement earlier this summer that calls for him to be sentenced to no more than 10 years, although neither side is arguing for that much.
Weinberger said in his newest sentencing memorandum that despite Anthem’s claims, the company never provided evidence of these cases.
Weinberger, who received national attention after fleeing the country in 2004 and then getting caught in Italy in 2009, is asking that he be sentenced to time served, which is about 34 months.
Federal attorneys are expected to ask that he be sentenced to 46 to 57 months in prison.