Weinberger had pleaded guilty in October to 22 counts of billing insurers and patients for procedures he didn't perform. Simon questioned federal prosecutors’ decision to focus on just those cases when there were at least dozens more.
“I’m not persuaded that the fraud is limited to the scope of the 22 cases the government chose to investigate,” Simon said. “I feel in many ways I’m operating in the dark.”
Simon said his decision was not influenced by letters from at least 18 former patients who had asked him to reject the plea deal.
Weinberger’s attorney, Adam Tavitas, declined to comment Wednesday. He and fellow defense attorney Stephen Scheele had urged Simon in an 18-page memorandum to accept the plea, saying the four-year sentence exceeds federal sentencing guidelines by two to 10 months. They also said the sentencing was separate from the hundreds of civil lawsuits Weinberger is facing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Berkowitz also declined to comment Wednesday.
A status conference is scheduled in about 30 days to determine the next step in the case.
Wednesday’s sentencing hearing came a month after a Lake County Superior Court jury ordered Weinberger to pay $13 million to relatives of Phyllis Barnes of Valparaiso. Weinberger treated Barnes for sinus problems, but didn't diagnose the advanced throat cancer that killed her.
Peggy Hood of Valparaiso, Barnes’ sister, said she was pleased the deal had been rejected.
“I’m happy. I understand that no decision was made, but I’m glad the judge didn't let him off with four years,” she said.
Weinberger was arrested on a mountain in Italy in December 2009, more than five years after he disappeared during a vacation.