Dr. Christopher Walker, a urogynecologist who specialized in removing transvaginal mesh that had gone wrong, was sentenced to time served and fined $866,000 for paying kickbacks for patient referrals, what prosecutors referred to as part of a "scheme," with funder Wesley Barber.
Prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York had sought up to 10 years in prison for Dr. Walker, arguing that the kickbacks "called into great question the quality of medical care" he provided his patients.
According to the indictment, one of the mesh makers announced it had entered a Master Settlement Agreement (MSA)with certain counsel involved in the multidistrict litigation. At that time, funder Wesley Barber and Walker allegedly began the plan to profit.
The case began in 2019 when three Jane Does from the Eastern District of New York allegedly came forward with the same complaint - that they had been enticed to go to Orlando to have surgery to raise the value of their pelvic mesh lawsuits.
Dr. Walker performed removal surgeries on Jane Doe #1 in May 2014 and Jane Doe #3 in September 2014.
In its indictment, the government did not say whether it was medically necessary to remove the pelvic mesh, which had caused many problems for women, including erosion, infection, chronic pain, nerve damage, shrinkage, and other issues.
Dr. Walker is considered one of a few specialists around the country to remove the pelvic mesh, which is intended to be a permanent implant.
Walker's attorney Jodi Avergun of Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft, told the court the surgeries were medically necessary, and prosecutors had never presented any evidence otherwise.
Last September, Dr. Walker pled guilty to the two charges. Barber pled guilty to charges of wire fraud. Barber pled guilty to Travel Act conspiracy.
Of Walker's sentence to time served, Avergun told Reuters, "Justice was served. Even though late, it was served today."
At a hearing in Brooklyn federal court, Judge Raymond Dearie ordered Walker to return $866,000 in profits.
Also charged was funder Wesley Barber who prosecutors say worked with Dr. Walker to find women to funnel to Florida and convinced them not to use their medical insurance. When the women won their lawsuit, they would be expected to pay back the cost of the surgery, the travel to Florida, and any interest on the loans his company had forwarded. They allegedly were told not to use their medical surgery to fund the operations.
Walker pled guilty to Counts 5 and 6 of the seven-count Superseding Indictment - Travel Act Conspiracy (5) and Travel Act Violation (6). The rest of the counts are dismissed and his sentence is reduced to time served along with two years of supervised release. Walker must also pay a $200 special assessment, and a $50k fine payable within 120 days. The case is listed as closed.
Walker has agreed to perform 500 hours of community service to be served during the period of supervised release.
Walker faced up to 10 years in prison. Barber faces up to 5 years in prison and has agreed to forfeit approximately $1.1 million.
Walker said he had to plead to make this go away.
He tells MND, "There is a God in heaven. He knows my heart that I love my patients, and I'm here to serve my patients. Thanks to God, I am free. The honorable judge saw the person I am what the horrible prosecutors were trying to do. We have to help these poor souls."
[This story is in production and more will be added here soon]
The nine-day trial of Tina Burris v Johnson & Johnson ended with a defendant win after jurors decided the company had issued adequate warnings about the risks of Prolift.
Kila Baldwin, who has won in excess of $150 million for transvaginal mesh injured women, has broken from Philadelphia-based Kline Specter to form a new personal injury law firm.
Tina Burris, implanted with two transvaginal meshes made by Johnson & Johnson (Ethicon) will have her defective product day in a Toledo, Ohio courtroom beginning in July.