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2 found dead in Indiana eye doctor's office

Two bodies have been found at the Elkhart, Ind., office of an eye doctor who was under indictment charging he performed unnecessary surgeries on patients.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An eye surgeon and his wife were found shot to death Monday, hours before they were scheduled to surrender to authorities on charges of performing unnecessary surgeries on patients, including children, and bilking money from health insurers.

The bodies of Dr. Philip Gabriele, 44, and his 43-year-old wife, Marcella, both of Granger, were found inside his Gabriele Eye Institute in Elkhart by police investigating a possible suicide attempt, Elkhart police spokesman Lt. Ed Windbigler said.

Philip Gabriele committed suicide, Windbigler said. Authorities were trying to determine who shot Marcella Gabriele, he said.

No one else was in the office, which was not scheduled to be open Monday.

Last week, a federal grand jury indicted Philip Gabriele, an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon with offices in Elkhart, South Bend and Mishawaka, and his wife on charges of health care fraud, wire fraud and criminal conspiracy.

The indictment alleged Philip Gabriele falsely diagnosed cataracts and other disorders and performed unnecessary surgeries. He was accused of fraudulently removing healthy eye lenses and replacing them with artificial lenses. Some of the surgeries were poorly done and caused poorer vision, the indictment charged, and Gabriele performed unnecessary surgery on patients, including children, who had strabismus, or crossed eyes.

The indictment said the couple altered patient charts and records to make it seem as if diagnoses were accurate and submitted fraudulent billing claims to Medicare, Indiana Medicaid and private health care insurers.

"We will continue to focus our energies on doing what we love — working tirelessly to provide top-quality medical care for the people of Michiana," the couple said in a statement issued Friday.

Their attorney, J.P. Hanlon, had said then that the indictment was without merit. A message left Monday seeking comment from Hanlon was not immediately returned.

Susan Manuszak, a friend of the couple, told reporters Monday that she received a cell phone message from Philip Gabriele saying he and his wife "couldn't take the pain." The message said the couple could be found in Elkhart, she said.