HAMMOND | Former patients and victims of Mark Weinberger expressed measured joy Friday for the seven-year prison sentence the former sinus doctor received.
Peggy Hood, of Valparaiso, watched U.S. District Court Judge Philip Simon hand down the sentence to Weinberger — a prison term more than twice the approximately 40-plus months she had feared he could get.
"It felt good," said Hood, whose sister, Phyllis Barnes, died of cancer after Weinberger allegedly misdiagnosed her at his former Merrillville medical practice.
Though the sentence won't bring back her sister, Hood said it did provide "a step toward closure."
Kenneth Allen, who successfully represented Barnes' family in a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Weinberger, said the family still is waiting to collect on a $13 million jury award because of legal roadblocks with the state.
Despite those obstacles, Allen said he appreciated Simon's willingness to issue a sentence for Weinberger that went beyond what U.S. probation officials were recommending.
"We're very pleased with Judge Simon's fortitude and strength of character in going beyond the guidelines," Allen said. "There is a certain nugget of justice in a seven-year sentence."
Former Weinberger patient William Boyer, 60, of Gary, also attended Friday's sentencing hearing, testifying in Hammond federal court that his throat and voice were damaged following a sinus procedure performed by Weinberger.
Speaking in a hoarse voice after the hearing, Boyer said he would have preferred Simon sentencing Weinberger to the 10-year maximum allowed under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
"But it's all right. I'll take it (seven years)," Boyer said.