Allentown Doctor Used Metal Bar in Sept. 2013 Attack in Cleveland Heights
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Dr. Georges Bensimhon, 67, an anesthesiologist from Allentown, will serve three years in prison for a bloody attack on his former son-in-law, Dr. Seth Alan Hoffer.
The doctor on doctor assault occurred in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 4 in suburban Cleveland Heights. Bensimhon, dressed in a mask and black ninja-style outfit, ambushed Hoffer as he stepped from the back door of his house on Dellwood Road.
Hoffer, a neurosurgeon at University Hospitals, was planning to drive to the airport to catch a flight to Florida, where he intended to pick up his young daughter. Hoffer was bringing his daughter to Ohio for Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year.
As Hoffer, 40, emerged from his house at 5:30 a.m., Bensimhon leapt from nearby bushes and smashed him in the head with a 12-inch clawed pry bar. Hoffer, although dazed and bloodied, was able to gain control of the much smaller Bensimhon and sat on him. Hoffer was unaware that his attacker was his father-in-law until he heard Bensimhon say, “Alan, get off me. I can’t breathe.”
Both Hoffer and Bensimhon were taken to area hospitals for treatment, with Hoffer found to have bite marks on his neck and shoulder. Bensimhon suffered a broken arm during the botched attack.
At his sentencing in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Bensimhon offered little motive for the attack. But police reports show that his daughter, Danielle Bensimhon, was engaged in a contentious divorce with Hoffer. The couple was battling over custody of their one-year-old daughter.
According to police and Dellwood Road neighbors, Dr. Bensimhon had reportedly threatened Hoffer several times in the past. Danielle had 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 a 7-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. His first wife died when the girl was 14 months old. The daughter was in the house when the attack occurred.
During their investigation, Cleveland Heights police searched the bushes behind Hoffer’s house and found a backpack belonging to Bensimhon. Inside the backpack were syringes loaded with several types of sedatives, including ketamine, a powerful hallucinogen that is closely related to PCP. Prosecutors–calling the stash a “deadly drug cocktail”–said the drugs, if administered, could have proven fatal to Hoffer.
Police found Bensimhon’s car about a half-mile away in the parking lot of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library. He had driven 400 miles to Cleveland Heights on the night before the attack.
At his sentencing, Bensimhon apologized to Hoffer and asked the court for leniency. “I am not a killer,” he said. “I am a healer.”
“Georges Bensimhon is a good man,” added his defense attorney, Larry Zukerman. “He’s a war hero who was decorated by (Israeli Prime Minister) Golda Meir.”
Bensimhon told the court that he did not want to hurt Hoffer, but only wanted to frighten him and make him miss his flight to Florida. Bensimhon claimed that he didn’t want Danielle to spend Rosh Hashanah without her daughter. Police evidence showed that a tire on Hoffer’s car had been slashed, apparently by Bensimhon.
Bensimhon was originally indicted on charges of attempted aggravated murder, but in April he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of felonious assault.
In addition to his prison sentence, Bensimhon was ordered to pay $2,510 in restitution to Hoffer. He will also serve three years probation after he is released from prison.