Doctor and surgery funder admit to playing role in transvaginal net fraud

  • Doctor admits conspiring to remove mesh from women after settlements in mesh dispute
  • The funder of the surgery also pleads guilty

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(Reuters) – A doctor in Florida on Friday admitted his role in a conspiracy to persuade women to undergo unnecessary surgeries to remove their transvaginal mesh implants in a bid to get a cut in settlement funds paid by manufacturers of trellis.

Dr Christopher Walker, a urogynecologist from Windermere, Florida, pleaded guilty to two counts during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn.

Walker, who was indicted alongside Detroit-based surgical financing consultant Wesley Barber in 2019, admitted paying Barber bribes to be referred to women with transvaginal mesh implants so that ‘he can operate on them.

Barber pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in a separate hearing on Tuesday.

In a statement, Walker’s lawyer Jodi Avergun of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, said her client has made a career out of helping women, including removing faulty vaginal implants.

“He took responsibility for his actions in order to move forward and resume his career caring for patients,” Avergun said.

Barber’s attorney, Joseph “Trey” Flynn of NeJame Law, said his client admitted his fault in the situation. But Flynn also rebuffed the idea that surgeries were unnecessary, calling the mesh a “very dangerous product.”

Prosecutors said the program followed the proliferation of litigation over mesh implants, which were used to repair tissue or provide support to women with pelvic organ prolapse until the Food and Drug Administration United States is halting their sale in 2019. Lawsuits against the products have claimed they cause pain. , bleeding and other injuries. Multicommunal litigation was created in 2012.

Manufacturers such as Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson have entered into agreements to settle certain disputes. Under some settlement agreements, women who have had surgery to remove the mesh are entitled to larger payments than those who still had it implanted, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors described a conspiracy based on identifying women with the net and then convincing them to have it removed surgically, often through misleading claims about the risks it posed. The women would go to a surgeon and have the operation, which was initially paid for by a loan from a surgical finance company and would typically demand repayment with high interest rates if the woman received a settlement from the mesh maker. , according to the indictment.

Barber referred patients and coordinated their surgeries, according to the indictment. Once the patients were referred to Walker, he would personally operate on some of them to remove the mesh, prosecutors said.

Barber’s sentencing date is scheduled for December 2. Walker’s sentencing is set for January 20.

Walker faces up to 10 years in prison, while Barber could receive up to five. Walker will lose about $ 800,000 and Barber will lose about $ 1.1 million, prosecutors say.

The case is USA v. Barber et al, Case Number 1: 19-cr-00239 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

For Walker: Jodi Avergun of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft

For Barber: Joseph “Trey” Flynn of NeJame Law

For the government: Deputy United States Attorneys Elizabeth Geddes and Sarah Evans and Attorney General Andrew Estes of the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division

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