(NEW YORK) — An Indiana plastic surgeon who fled the country after being accused of billing insurers and patients for hundreds of unnecessary procedures was sentenced Friday to seven years behind bars.
Dr. Mark Weinberger, a nose and sinus doctor from Merriville, Ind., pleaded guilty last summer to 22 counts of health care fraud and on Friday a federal judge in Chicago gave him a far longer sentence than he and his attorneys had hoped for: 84 months in jail.
The sentencing was the culmination of a long, bizarre journey that took authorities all the way to a snowy get-away high in the European Alps. Shortly after the accusations were leveled against him, Weinberger disappeared during a European vacation, leaving his wife behind on their yacht, and managed to evade authorities for years until he was finally captured living in a tent on an Italian mountainside in December 2009.
Weinberger stabbed himself in the neck as he was being taken into custody, causing him to spend time in a hospital before returning to the United States.
It was a dramatic fall from grace for a well-known doctor accustomed to a life of luxury in Chicago’s ritzy Gold Coast neighborhood.
Since his arrest in Italy, Weinberger, now 49, has been locked up at the city’s federal Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he claimed to cook meals for inmates and teach yoga classes, according to the Chicago Tribune. In addition, Weinberger conducted a class on non-violence in which he “personally scripts Socractic dialogues taking place between various historical figures,” the paper reported.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire