HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) – A federal judge rejected a plea agreement Wednesday morning for an infamous former Northwest Indiana nose doctor, and the doctor will likely now go to trial.
U.S. District Judge Philip Simon issued the ruling for Mark Weinberger of Merrillville, Ind., saying the plea didn’t cover the full scope of criminal conduct.
Weinberger pleaded guilty in October to 22 counts of health care fraud. The charges stemmed from claims that he never actually performed nose surgeries on his patients, then billed Medicaid.
The plea agreement would have forced the court to sentence Weinberger to four years in prison. The case has gone on for six years now, after Weinberger fled the country in 2004 when patients started to file complaints against him.
Last month, a jury in Hammond awarded a $13 million verdict against Weinberger, on behalf of a woman who died of cancer that he didn’t diagnose when performing sinus surgery on her.
Weinberger is being sued for medical malpractice by more than 350 other former patients.
Federal criminal charges against Weinberger came in 2006. He was arrested as a fugitive in northern Italy three years later, and was brought back to Indiana after trying to commit suicide with a box cutter he had hidden in his rectum.
The Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire