HAMMOND | Federal prosecutors have filed paperwork in support of the extradition of former Merrillville physician Mark Weinberger, who was apprehended earlier this month in a tent near Mont Blanc in Italy.
The filing, dated Dec. 26, details some of the evidence that prosecutors would use to establish that Weinberger billed private health insurance companies for procedures that were not needed or never performed.
Among the evidence, prosecutors would present patient files and billing records and testimony from 22 patients.
Prosecutors also would call Dr. Steven M. Houser to the stand, who according to court records would offer expert review of records that show Weinberger submitted insurance claims for procedures that were never performed.
Weinberger, a sinus specialist from Merrillville who earned the moniker "The Nose Doctor," was missing for more than five years after he failed to return from a family trip to Greece and left behind the Merrillville Center for Advanced Surgery LLC and Nose and Sinus Centers LLC, which he operated between November 2002 and 2004.
Weinberger was indicted by a federal grand jury in Hammond in 2006 on 22 counts of fraud for allegedly scheming to overbill insurance companies.
Federal prosecutors said Weinberger, under the ruse of performing costly sinus surgery, would put clients under anesthesia and then not perform the surgery. He then would bill insurance companies for the expensive procedures, according to the indictment.
Weinberger, who has been featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted" twice, has been the focus of hundreds of civil lawsuits across Northwest Indiana that allege malpractice.
Earlier this month, Weinberger was discovered after a mountain guide tipped off authorities that he was in Val Ferret, living in a tent with high-tech mountain survival gear. Police say he stabbed himself in the neck with a knife he had hidden as he was taken into custody.
Last week, a court in Turin approved a U.S. extradition request for a fugitive American doctor accused of fraud and malpractice who was found in a tent near Mont Blanc, a prosecutor said Thursday.
The process is now in the hands of the Justice Ministry to decide how to proceed.
Last week, a ministry spokesman told The Associated Press that the ministry has 40 days, starting from when the court's decision arrives at the ministry, to decide whether to return Weinberger to the United States.