Monthly Archives: September 2013

Ambush Doc Pleads Not Guilty

“Alan Hoffer Was Reportedly Bitten On His Neck And Shoulder During The Pre-Dawn Attack”

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Dr. Georges Bensimhon

CLEVELAND — Accused of trying to kill his son-in-law, Dr. Georges Bensimhon pleaded not guilty Sept. 24 in Cuyahoga County Court.

Bensimhon, a well-respected anesthesiologist from Lehigh County in Pennsylvania, allegedly drove to Cleveland Heights, Ohio and attacked Dr. Alan Hoffer, 39, in the early morning of Sept. 4.

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Danielle Bensimhon

In the ninja-style attack, Bensimhon, who was garbed head-to-toe in black, hid in the bushes behind Hoffer’s house. When Hoffer stepped out of the house at 5:30 a.m., Bensimhon smashed him in the head with a 12-inch metal pry bar. Hoffer, who is involved in a bitter divorce with Bensimhon’s daughter, Danielle Bensimhon, overpowered his 66-year-old assailant. Bensimhon suffered a broken arm during the botched “hit.”

Hoffer, a neurosurgeon, told police that on the morning of the attack, he had prearranged plans to to fly to Florida to pick up his daughter.  Describing the fight, Hoffer said he heard footsteps just seconds before he was struck. He was dazed and bloodied, but he managed to gain control of the smaller Bensimhon and sat on him. When Hoffer heard his masked attacker yell, “Alan, get off me. I can’t breathe,” he recognized the voice as that of Bensimhon.

Both Hoffer and Bensimhon were taken to area hospitals for treatment, with Hoffer found to have bite marks on his neck and shoulder.

During their investigation, officers found spinal needles, some filled with anesthetics and sedatives, in a backpack that apparently belonged to Bensimhon. The officers did not speculate why Bensimhon had brought the syringes and drugs to Hoffer’s house or what he intended to do with the supplies. Bensimhon’s car was found about a half-mile away in the parking lot of the Cleveland Heights library.

Hoffer’s neighbors on Dellwood Road reported that Hoffer and his estranged wife were in the middle of a nasty divorce that included a custody battle over their 1-year-old daughter. Bensimhon had reportedly threatened Hoffer several times in the past. Danielle moved to south Florida two years ago with the couple’s daughter. She works as a realtor and is a cantor at Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens. Hoffer has another daughter from a previous marriage. She was in the house when the attack occurred.

Bensimhon has been a doctor for three decades, most recently working as an anesthesiologist for Coordinated Health in the Lehigh Valley. He appeared at his arraignment with his Cleveland attorney Larry Zukerman. His bond was raised from $500,000 to $750,000 and he was placed on house arrest. As part of his bond conditions, Bensimhon will be confined to his home in South Whitehall, Pa. He will be electronically monitored and allowed to travel to medical visits and temple.

He was also ordered to have no contact with Hoffer and to surrender his U.S. and Israel passports. The judge also ordered that he is only to return to Cleveland to visit his attorney and only after notifying the court. While in Cleveland, Bensimhon is under court orders to reside with his attorney, who lives in Beachwood. Bensimhon’s first pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30. No trial date has been set.

Bensimhon faces one count each of attempted aggravated murder and attempted murder, and two counts each of kidnapping and felonious assault.

Dr. Alan Hoffer’s Neighbor Describes Bizarre Attack in Cleveland Hts.

“The Shouting Was So Loud…It Sounded Like a Street Fight” — Laura Paglin, Dellwood Road resident and 9-1-1 caller

alanhoffer(UPDATED) In the pre-dawn darkness of Sept. 4, Dellwood Road residents Laura Paglin and her husband Duane Verh were readying for work. Three houses away, Dr. Alan Hoffer (at left) was fighting for his life.

Hoffer had been ambushed in a ninja-style attack by Dr. Georges Bensimhon, the 66-year-old father of Hoffer’s estranged wife, Danielle Bensimhon.

During the attack, Hoffer, 39, was struck repeatedly in the head and arms with a steel crowbar. Eventually, Hoffer managed to overpower Bensimhon, who had been hiding in the shrubbery behind Hoffer’s house. Hoffer’s repeated shouts for help were heard by Paglin and Verh.  

“We thought somebody was getting mugged or there was a street fight,” says Paglin. “The shouting was disturbing and unusual, especially for this quiet neighborhood.” 

When Verh went outside to investigate the disturbance, he found the 250-pound Hoffer sitting atop the 5-foot-7 Bensimhon, an anesthesiologist from Allentown, Pa. Hoffer was bleeding profusely from his face, arms and neck. 

Paglin then dialed 9-1-1 and awaited the arrival of Cleveland Heights police. Minutes later, a patrol car sped down Dellwood, directed to Hoffer’s house by Paglin and other neighbors who had gathered outside.

“When police arrived, Dr. Hoffer was still on top of Bensimhon, who was laying on his stomach,” Paglin says. “Hoffer had him under control. He’s a big guy and Bensimhon was complaining that he couldn’t breathe. He told Dr. Hoffer in an exasperated tone: ‘Alan, will you get off of me. My arm is broken!'”

Bensimhon’s alleged weapon was laying nearby. Initially it was described by a neighbor as a “scythe,” but police say it is a 12-inch crowbar with a sharpened point. The instrument had been wrapped in athletic tape. Also found nearby was a backpack, belonging to Bensimhon, that contained syringes and injectable sedatives. Police described Bensimhon as wearing a black mask and dressed all in black at the time of his arrest. He wore purple latex surgical gloves, and carried a silver flashlight in his pants pocket.

According to a police statement, Hoffer said that he was beaten with the crow bar and bitten repeatedly. He was treated at University Hospitals for his injuries, while Bensimhon was taken to the Cleveland Clinic. 

Paglin, a longtime neighbor of Hoffer’s, describes him as a “nice guy who’s quiet and very pleasant.” She says she was shocked to learn that Hoffer was attacked by a family member. However, Alan Hoffer’s father, Dr. Barry Hoffer told police there has been a history of bad blood between his son and Dr. Bensimhon, including several threats of violence. 

Since 2011, Alan Hoffer and Danielle Bensimhon have been involved in a contentious divorce and custody battle over their daughter, who is age 1. On the morning of the attack, Hoffer was preparing to leave for Florida to pick up the girl, police said.

Two years ago, Danielle Bensimhon, 34, relocated to West Palm Beach, Fla. A graduate of Oberlin College, she works as a realtor and is a cantor at Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens. 

 Hoffer, a neurological surgeon at University Hospitals of Cleveland, lives on Dellwood with his 7-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. 

Paglin says in the day or two after the attack, Dellwood Road residents were visited by a private investigator, who had been hired on behalf of Dr. Bensimhon. “He was talking to all the neighbors…just asking what we saw or heard. I guess he was gathering information for Bensimhon’s defense lawyers,” she says. 

When asked if she had any theories about Bensimhon’s failed “hit”, Paglin, who works as a filmmaker, says she wonders whether the physician had plans to “knock out” Dr. Hoffer with sedatives, then transport him elsewhere. Police found Bensimhon’s car parked at the nearby Cleveland Heights Public Library on Lee Road.

Bensimhon was indicted Sept. 12 on charges of attempted murder, attempted aggravated murder, felonious assault, and kidnapping. His arraignment is set for Sept. 25 at Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Bensimhon was born in Morocco and has U.S. and Israeli passports. As a condition of bail, Bensimhon surrendered his passports, which were reportedly held by Danielle

DOCTOR ATTACKS DOCTOR: Bizarre Incident in Cleveland suburb (first reported here)

BensimhonDressed in black and clutching a 12-inch metal pry bar, Dr. Georges “Yossi” Bensimhon (pictured at left) crouched in the bushes behind his son-in-law’s house in the early morning hours of Sept. 4.

Police say Bensimhon, an anesthesiologist from Allentown, Pa., had driven six hours to Cleveland Heights with intentions of administering the Big Sleep to Dr. Alan Hoffer, who is engaged in a bitter divorce with Bensimhon’s daughter, Danielle Bensimhon.

The attack was thwarted, however, when Hoffer, after stepping out his back door at 5:30 a.m., heard rustling behind him. The 66-year-old Bensimhon, garbed in a black mask and purple surgical gloves, swung the metal bar at Hoffer, hitting him repeatedly in the head and arms. Although bloodied and dazed, Hoffer, a neurosurgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, was able to overpower the 5-foot-7 Bensimhon and restrain him until his neighbors called police.

Cleveland Heights police charged Bensimhon, reportedly a veteran of the Israeli Army, with attempted aggravated murder, breaking and entering, and possession of criminal tools. Investigators recovered a backpack at the scene, apparently belonging to Bensimhon, that contained hypodermic needles and various injectable sedatives.

Law enforcement officials said they have not ascertained whether Danielle Bensimhon had prior knowledge of her father’s intentions. On the morning of the attack, Hoffer was planning to drive to the Cleveland airport to pick up his young daughter, who lives in North Miami Beach with Danielle. Hoffer and his estranged wife are involved in a custody battle over their daughter.

The couple are scheduled to begin their contested divorce trial on Sept. 30. Danielle, who moved to Florida two years ago, works as a realtor and is also a cantor at Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens. She previously was a cantor at Congregation Bethaynu in Pepper Pike, an eastern suburb of Cleveland.

Hoffer’s father, Dr. Barry Hoffer, told police there had been problems between his son and Dr. Bensimhon in the past, “including threats.”

(Update) Dr. Bensimhon was indicted Sept. 12 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on charges of kidnapping, felonious assault, attempted murder, and attempted aggravated murder.