Convicted ‘Runaway Doctor' Starts New Life After Prison, Leaving Former Patient Shocked

Former sinus surgeon Mark Weinberger was convicted of 22 counts of health care fraud in northwest Indiana in 2012. Now he’s out of prison and one of his patients says she can’t believe where Dateline and NBC 5 found him and what he’s doing now.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Former sinus surgeon Mark Weinberger, known as the "Nose Doctor," recently resurfaced in West Palm Beach, Florida, after serving less than five years behind bars.

"He thinks that he’s above the law," said Kayla Thomas, a former Weinberger patient.

"I was angry, I’m still angry," added her mother, Valerie Thomas. "This man is a monster."

Weinberger attracted national media attention back in 2004 when he fled the country after former patients filed complaints against him. He vanished while traveling with his wife to celebrate her 30th birthday in the Greek Islands. At the time, his wife said the couple was vacationing on a 79-foot powerboat in Mykonos and she woke up to find him gone.

After two years of being on the run, a federal grand jury in Indiana indicted Weinberger on 22 counts of health care fraud for overbilling insurance companies for surgical procedures that were not needed or never done. The case was put on hold while an international manhunt for Weinberger was underway.

Valerie Thomas said she stills see Weinberger in her dreams, adding, "I imagine that he had long hair and I would grab him by the hair and punch him."

She sued the former doctor for doing unnecessary sinus surgery on her then 8-year-old daughter Kayla in 2004 and missing a tumor that was in Kayla's pituitary gland.

"I was dizzy. I was nauseous. I was throwing up all the time," Kayla recalled.

"Her head was three times the size. They said she was starting to go blind,” Thomas said. “It was pressing on her optic nerve.”

Fortunately, Chicago doctors determined Kayla’s tumor was not cancerous, but her mother said by then the scar tissue from Weinberg's needless surgery at his Weinberger Sinus Clinic in Merrillville, Indiana, made it impossible to remove.

"They only got 10 percent," said Thomas, noting that 90 percent of the tumor is still inside her daughter.

As Kayla suffered, Weinberger made millions and lived a lifestyle of the rich and famous.

"To me it was all about greed. He wanted as much money as he can get," said Thomas.

Hiding Out in the Italian Alps

Weinberger averted law enforcement for three years until December 2009, when Italian police found him on a snowy mountainside. He was reportedly living in a tent, 6,000 feet up in the Italian Alps. He was extradited back to Indiana where he eventually pled guilty to the health fraud charges in 2012. He was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

"I wanted him to pay. I wanted him to serve the consequences for his actions," Kayla said.

"I was nonfunctional that day," Thomas added. "I did not think that was enough. At that point Kayla had suffered more than seven years."

Even with time served before and after the sentencing, Weinberger spent less than five years behind bars.

A New Life in Florida

This spring, Dateline found Weinberger living in Florida.

For Thomas, this was far from what she considered justice. "I’m upset with the thought that he's still not in jail and that he is in Florida living his best life."

Dateline found Weinberger has set up a new life in West Palm Beach with a new wife, two small children and a Florida home.

Since prison, Weinberger seemed to have dabbled in crypto currency on YouTube, referring to himself as Mark W.

Weinberger did not respond to NBC News’s numerous requests for an interview.

NBC News's investigation of Weinberger's online activity also found him referring to himself now as a yoga doc. In online videos he's seen selling yoga classes that will turn a nerd into a ninja or a zero to a superhero. He says people work out for two reasons: get "hot chicks" and "look great naked."

"I think it’s awful," Kayla said. "I think he’s still showing and exhibiting the same level of awfulness that he was earlier, which leads me to believe he hasn’t learned anything."

Now 25, Kayla says she has learned a lot since childhood. She endured years of painful treatment for her tumor, studied incredibly hard, and after medical school she’ll become both an internist and pediatrician, not because of Weinberger, but in spite of him.

"I didn’t do it to somehow right his wrong," said Kayla. "I did it because when he decided to run there were other doctors that were like, hey I’ll take care of you."

Thomas said she’s proud of her daughter’s efforts. "I always told her you’re going to go away to college and no matter what, I’m going to make sure it happens."

Kayla said she gives thanks to the doctors who helped her along the way.

"If we don’t have the doctors that are willing to say, 'I will walk through this with you,' that’s when we lose our humanity. So [Weinberger] might have lost his, but that doesn’t mean I have to lose mine."

In 2005, Weinberger’s medical license was permanently revoked by the Indiana Medical Board.

Nearly 300 former patients of Weinberger sued and received a share of the $55 million medical-malpractice settlement in 2013.

Contact Us