Melbourne, March 17: A U.S. District Court judge might order the assets of Dr. Jayant Patel to be frozen ahead of a 'slew' of civil lawsuits expected to be lodged by his alleged victims.
According to Michelle A McKinley, an assistant professor at the University of Oregon's School of Law, 57-year-old Patel, who is also referred to as "Dr. Death" for fatally botching the surgeries of at least 17 patients, he may get bail, but will be stripped of his passport and other important documents.
Patel, jailed in Portland, Oregon, is scheduled to appear in the US District Court in Portland on Tuesday to ask Judge Dennis Hubel to release him on bail while he fights extradition to Australia for 16 charges, including three counts of manslaughter, reports news.com.au. "The court may also order his assets temporarily frozen to prevent any attempt to shelter assets in light of an anticipated slew of civil damages, which will occur after the criminal suit," McKinley was quoted, as saying.
Patel lives in a million dollar house in an affluent suburb of Portland, and earned 200,000 Australian dollars a year as head of surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005. His wife, Kishoree, is a doctor in the Portland area. Asked by Judge Hubel last week if he could afford to hire his own lawyer, Patel, represented by a court appointed attorney, replied: 'Most likely not'. FBI officers arrested Patel on March 11 at his Beaverton home. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison in Queensland if convicted of manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and fraud offences he is accused of committing while being employed at the Bundaberg hospital.
Patel's friend, Texas-based surgeon Vijay Mehta, has indicated Patel plans to fight extradition to Australia. The US and Australia have an extradition treaty and are "common law countries" so there "should be no problem with extradition," McKinley said. "Patel will try to fight against extradition by claiming that it is impossible for him to get a fair jury trial in Australia because of his reputation," McKinley predicted.