Surgical Funding Facilitator and Physician Charged in Alleged Nationwide Scheme to Defraud Women in Connection with Transvaginal Mesh Litigation
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, a six-count indictment was unsealed charging Wesley Blake Barber, the owner of Surgical Assistance Inc. and Medical Funding Consultants LLC, and Christopher Walker, a licensed urogynecologist and owner of MedSurg Holdings LLC, for their roles in an alleged scheme to defraud women across the United States in connection with surgeries to remove transvaginal mesh (TVM) implants.
Barber and Walker are each charged with committing wire fraud, violating the Travel Act and related conspiracies. Both defendants were arrested this morning. Barber is expected to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Rebecca Rutherford of the Northern District of Texas at the federal courthouse in Dallas, and Walker is expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Kelly of the Middle District of Florida at the federal courthouse in Orlando.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Brian A. Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the indictment.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators exploited and defrauded women, misrepresenting health risks from TVM implants to pressure the women to undergo procedures to the defendants’ economic advantage,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “This Office, the Department of Justice and the FBI will continue to investigate and prosecute medical professionals and others who prey on the vulnerable to line their own pockets.”
“Barber and Walker convinced their victims to subject themselves to surgical procedures based on misrepresentations of fact, as alleged, causing them to incur a financial loss, and likely presenting them with a significant emotional burden,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “They used the bodies of women as a conduit for their greedy behavior, and that is simply not allowed. Medical professionals play a vital role in our society, and they're required to adhere to a strict set of standards. As evidenced today, those who don't will be held accountable.”
According to the indictment, Barber and Walker sought to profit in connection with lawsuits filed throughout the United States relating to alleged harm that TVM implants had caused women. The alleged scheme sought to take advantage of settlements in these lawsuits in which women who had their TVM implants surgically removed were entitled to receive larger settlements than women whose inserts remained implanted. As part of the scheme, the conspirators allegedly persuaded women around the country to undergo removal surgeries by fraudulently misrepresenting both the health risks associated with the TVM implants and the need to travel long distances to use pre-selected doctors for the surgeries, including Walker, rather than their local doctors. Barber’s companies allegedly coordinated the removal surgeries and then purchased and resold for profit the medical debts incurred by the women. In addition, Walker and others paid kickbacks and bribes to Barber in exchange for the referral of these women for their surgeries.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
If convicted of all the charges, Barber and Walker each face up to 90 years’ imprisonment.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes of the Eastern District of New York and Trial Attorney Andrew Estes of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
WESLEY BLAKE BARBER
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-239 (RJD)