Plastic surgeon's license ordered suspended after bribery allegation

Richard Glunk was ordered in '08 to pay $20.5 million to the parents of Amy Fledderman, who died from a liposuction complication.
Richard Glunk was ordered in '08 to pay $20.5 million to the parents of Amy Fledderman, who died from a liposuction complication.
Posted: December 08, 2010

Richard Glunk, the plastic surgeon who recently lost his appeal of a $20 million medical-malpractice verdict that involved the death of a Delaware County teenager, is still offering free consultations for liposuction and other procedures.

But Glunk's ability to nip or tuck might be curbed for a couple of months because of allegations that he tried to bribe a Hasidic rabbi who is on the state Board of Medicine.

In a ruling released last week, Glunk was ordered to pay a $5,000 civil penalty, relinquish his license for at least 60 days and take classes in ethics, professionalism or related topics.

The medical board's hearing examiner concluded that Glunk had tried to bribe Rabbi Solomon Isaacson, who is also a political fundraiser, with a $5,000 contribution to Bob Brady's 2007 mayoral campaign and another $5,000 to Isaacson's Philadelphia synagogue.

Glunk, whose office is in King of Prussia, had met Isaacson through Gary Barbera, the Northeast Philly car dealer who pleaded guilty in May to filing false tax returns.

The hearing examiner wrote that Glunk, who lives in Malvern, had no interest in Brady's mayoral campaign or the synagogue but that his contacts with Isaacson "were made with the intent to influence him in his capacity as a board member to corrupt the adjudicatory process and influence the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding."

Glunk had been facing disciplinary action for three liposuction procedures that resulted in the hospitalization of his patients - including Amy Fledderman, 18, a Penn State freshman from Newtown Square, who died in 2001 from a liposuction complication.

The state Board of Medicine sided with Glunk in those cases, with Isaacson recusing himself. But a Philadelphia jury awarded Fledderman's parents $20.5 million in damages, and the two other liposuction patients settled their lawsuits out of court. No criminal charges were filed.

Glunk angrily denies the bribery allegation, saying that the hearing examiner was "extremely" biased against him and ignored inconsistencies in Isaacson's testimony.

Isaacson claimed that Glunk sent him two $5,000 checks and that he returned both because "it just bothered me," according to the examiner's ruling. But Glunk insists that he never sent the second check to Isaacson.

"The rabbi claimed there was a [second] check but couldn't even begin to describe it," Glunk said.

Glunk has testified that he mentioned his medical-board case to Isaacson only because he was unsure whether it would be appropriate for him to attend the Brady fundraiser that Isaacson was planning to host at a Russian restaurant.

Glunk said yesterday that there was a "decent chance" his license would not be revoked, but he declined to elaborate.

"They have cut off my right to appeal, and that's illegal," he said.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the state Superior Court upheld the Fledderman verdict, which Glunk had appealed. Attorney Dean Murtagh, who represented Glunk in that trial, said he was asking the full Superior Court to hear the appeal.

Murtagh predicted that the Fledderman verdict - which includes $15 million in punitive damages - wouldn't be paid. He said Glunk's insurance coverage is "infinitesimal" compared with what he owes.

"The verdict is so far in excess of what anybody has," Murtagh said. "I don't know where people think the money is coming from when they give verdicts like that."

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