The Indiana based surgeon who fled the country to escape prosecution on 22 fraud charges and 300 malpractice claims Friday agreed to plead guilty to charges in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Mark Weinberger, 47, appeared in court in an orange jump suit. His hair, which was shaven when he was arrested, is now growing back in, jet black. He told Judge Phillip Simon "I did this with knowledge and intent to defraud" and added "I'm very, very sorry."
Weinberger, who was arrested as a fugitive in Italy last year, knowingly botched surgeries at his supposed state-of-the art clinic in Merrillville, Indiana.
Simon has until Jan. 21, when sentencing is scheduled, to agree to the terms of the plea deal., which calls for a four year prison term, paying a $250,000 fine and if he should receive a book or movie deal, he must first repay his victims.
Weinberger's ex-wife Michelle Kramer, whom he left weeks after she miscarried their child, wrote a letter to the judge presiding over his case asking that the case be pushed to trial so his victims and their peers could judge him.
"His plea of guilty requesting a maximum of 4 years where he will likely serve significantly less is egregious. Would he have done much less had he not absconded with approximately $4 million in receivables and newly signed loans to live a first class lavish lifestyle in Monte Carlo/Italian Alps and wherever else for 5 years?
Five years while people suffered here. Some overtly and some of this suffering was insidious. The doubt he created in the minds of patient’s who became familiar with the story grows like a cancer and undermines our basic right to pursue health for ourselves and our families. He mocks our justice system and frankly I believe his plea agreement is an extension of that mockery.
Weinberger's attorney Adam Tavitis is pleased with the plea deal.
"It's a good outcome of the case," he said. "Based after rereading all of the evidence and a lot of talks together with my client and the government (to avoid a trial) is a good outcome."
Personal injury attorney Ken Allen wasn't as thrilled. He believes Weinberger will end up in a "club fed," but is looking forward to trying his nearly 100 civil cases against Weinberger.
Allen says "four years is a drop in the bucket."
He adds "he's still a medical doctor, he'll still practice medicine somewhere and that's what scares me."