A federal judge in Hammond, Ind., said a former nose surgeon basically used his patients as an ATM as he sentenced Mark Weinberger to seven years in prison.
The sentence was beyond the four years for which prosecutors had pressed, and was a total denial of Weinberger's request for consideration of time served. Weinberger has already spent 34 months in prison on fraud charges.
"I lied. I stole. My behavior was profoundly outrageous, bizzare and stupid," Weinberger told Judge Philip Simon.
He said he let many people down, listing his family, colleagues, employees, friends and patients, saying he wished he could make it up to them.
"The best I can do is spend every minute trying to redeem myself," he said. "Is redemption possible? I don't know. But please, your honor, let me try."
Weinberger had pleaded guilty to 22 counts of health care fraud under a plea deal that called for no more than of 10 years in prison. Simon rejected a plea deal last year that called for a four-year prison sentence, saying he was not confident it took into account the scope of Weinberger's crimes and all the resources used to find him.
"The judge took a lot of things into consideration. I was hoping he was going to give him less time. But I understand the logic behind it," said Weinberger's attorney, Visvaldis Kupsis.
Weinberger was captured in late 2009 on a mountain in Italy after vanishing during a family vacation in Greece five years earlier. A guide on the mountain tipped off police that Weinberger was living in a tent, equipped with survival gear.
Weinberger once ran a nose and sinus clinic in Merrillville, where prosecutors said he billed insurers and patients for procedures he didn't perform.