Doctor gets 3 years for attack on son-in-law

AP News
Posted: Jul 01, 2014 6:52 PM
Doctor gets 3 years for attack on son-in-law

CLEVELAND (AP) — A respected Pennsylvania anesthesiologist who attacked his daughter's estranged neurosurgeon husband with a clawed pry bar in a Cleveland suburb was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday.

Dr. Georges Bensimhon, 67, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, apologized to his former son-in-law, Dr. Seth Alan Hoffer, before being sentenced and taken into custody by sheriff's deputies.

"If I could erase that day from the calendar, I would," Bensimhon said.

Bensimhon claimed he did not intend to hurt Hoffer, 40, but wanted to scare him and make him miss a flight to Florida, where Hoffer was supposed to pick up his 1-year-old daughter and bring her back to his Cleveland Heights home for a visit.

Bensimhon claimed he did not want his daughter, Danielle, to spend Rosh Hashanah alone.

Hoffer and his wife were going through a contentious divorce at the time. It was finalized in November 2013.

Prosecutors dropped an attempted aggravated murder charge and other counts against Bensimhon as part of a plea deal. He had faced up to eight years in prison.

Prosecutors said Bensimhon borrowed a car from a neighbor and drove 400 miles through the night to Cleveland Heights before the September 2013 attack. He wore black clothes, a black mask and latex gloves and hid in bushes at the back of Hoffer's home, prosecutors said.

After suffering a deep gash to the head when Bensimhon attacked, Hoffer overpowered him and had the smaller man pinned to the ground when police arrived.

Hoffer told police he did not know the attacker was his father-in-law until Bensimhon yelled out that he could not breathe after Hoffer had taken him down.

Police found loaded syringes containing the drug ketamine, a hallucinogen, and other sedatives in a backpack Bensimhon left in the bushes. Prosecutors said Bensimhon likely stole the drugs.

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A toxicologist from the Cuyahoga County medical examiner's office wrote that a combination of the ketamine and the other sedatives could prove fatal because of the effect they can have on a person's respiratory system.

Prosecutors said it appeared that Bensimhon planned the attack and contend that Bensimhon likely slashed a tire on Hoffer's car in an attempt to stop him from driving to the airport for a flight to Florida to see his daughter. Hoffer noticed he had a flat after arriving at the airport.

In his victim's statement, Hoffer said Bensimhon has left him and his 7-year-old daughter from a previous marriage in fear for their lives. His first wife died of cancer when the girl was 14 months old.

"I cannot undo the terror he has instilled in our lives," Hoffer said.