Italy: court OKs extradition of US fugitive doctor

AP News
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Posted: Dec 24, 2009 4:23 AM

A court in Turin has 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.

Deputy chief prosecutor Gianfranco Burino said Mark Weinberger, arrested Dec. 15 near Italy's northern border with France, didn't fight extradition at Tuesday's hearing.

It's now up to the Justice Ministry to decide how to proceed. A ministry spokesman said Justice Minister Angelino Alfano has 40 days, starting from when the court's decision arrives at the ministry, to decide whether to return Weinberger to the United States.

Weinberger, of Merrillville, Indiana, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Hammond, Indiana, in 2006 on 22 counts of fraud for allegedly scheming to overbill insurance companies for procedures that were either not needed or sometimes never performed.

In addition, Weinberger is facing around 300 civil claims filed by patients against him, his Merrillville attorney James Hough has said.

He 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.

He remains hospitalized in Turin recovering from the neck wound.