An Italian newspaper reports that authorities in that country have arrested former Merrillville physician Mark Weinberger, who disappeared five years ago in the wake of accusations of fraud and malpractice.
The 46-year-old sinus specialist -- who earned the moniker "The Nose Doctor" -- was found Tuesday hiding in a tent some 6,000 feet above sea level at the foot of Mont Blanc in the Italian Alps, according to the online edition of La Repubblica.
The FBI is working with Italian authorities to positively identify the suspect as Weinberger, Wendy Osborne of the FBI office in Indianapolis said. The federal agency was told of the arrest early Wednesday, Osborne said.
A Lake Worth, Fla., man who identified himself on the phone as Weinberger's father, Fred Weinberger, said he was unaware a suspect believed to be his son had been arrested in Italy.
"I haven't heard anything since the day he disappeared," Fred Weinberger said.
Mark Weinberger, who operated the Merrillville Center for Advanced Surgery LLC and Nose and Sinus Centers LLC between November 2002 and 2004, was being guarded at a hospital in the Italian city of Aosta after he stabbed himself in the neck with a box cutter-like knife while in the bathroom of a police station, authorities told the newspaper.
Weinberger has been the subject of a federal investigation, is named in hundreds of civil lawsuits across Northwest Indiana that allege malpractice and is charged with 22 counts of health care fraud in U.S. District Court in Hammond.
His fugitive saga started in 2004 when he didn't return from a family trip to Greece. Drowning in debt when he disappeared, Weinberger's legal troubles deepened in December 2006 when a federal grand jury seated in Hammond indicted him on charges he billed insurance companies for procedures he didn't perform. He has been featured on "America's Most Wanted."
Federal prosecutors claim Weinberger, under the ruse of performing costly sinus surgery, would put clients under anesthesia and then not perform the surgery. He would then bill insurance companies for the expensive procedures, according to the indictment.
Times staff writers Chris Keller, Dan Hinkel and Sue Erler contributed to this report