Indian-American surgeon in Long Island, N.Y., cleared of all criminal charges

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Dr. Venkatesh Sasthakonar of Nassau University Medical Center. (Photo: NUMC press release)

An Indian-American surgeon has been cleared of all criminal charges by a judge in Nassau County, Long Island, according to news reports.

Well-known surgeon Dr. Venkatesh Sasthakonar, was accused by a nurse of allegedly trying to strangle her with an ‘elastic cord’ following differences over some medical procedures. But a judge exonerated him Feb. 20, and police said there was insufficient evidence that any crime occurred after examining videos and talking to colleagues at the hospital. The 44-year old doctor, who, according to Newsday, is “a veteran weight-loss surgeon,” had consistently maintained his innocence. News reports quoted the doctor’s attorney saying the nurse’s story was a complete lie.

Newsday and other major news channels like abc7ny, described the scene outside the courtroom after the judge pronounced the verdict. Dr. Sasthakonar was surrounded by friends and well-wishers as he emerged from court, and occasionally became emotional as he recounted his traumatic experience.

“What happened to me didn’t hurt me,” he is quoted saying in the abc7ny report, adding, “What happened to (my wife) and the kids is what hurt me…I thought being a good person could protect you against bad things happening to you, against evil. I don’t trust that anymore.” Dr. Sasthakonar is married to an internal medicine physician.

“I hope nobody goes through this hell including the person who started all this,” Sasthakonar’s wife is quoted saying in the cbslocal.com report, adding,  “What happened in the past month was a nightmare.”

“After thoroughly reviewing this case, interviewing witnesses and analyzing surveillance video, it has been determined there is not enough evidence to support that a crime occurred,” Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney’s office, is quoted saying in a statement on cbslocal.com.

According to his profile on the website health.usnews.com, Dr. Venkatesh Sasthakonar Esackimuthu who is affiliated with Nassau University Medical Center, received his medical degree from Mysore Medical College. An April 14, 2008 press release put out by the hospital when it employed Dr. Sasthakonar, described him “as a bariatric surgeon skilled in performing laparoscopic obesity surgeries with excellent results.”

Before he joined NUMC in 2008, the Indian-American doctor had already performed more than 200 laparoscopic obesity surgeries and participated in the management of over 500 morbidly obese patients, according to the press release, all while also providing training for medical students and residents.

He received general surgery training at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center from 2002 until 2007.  Dr. Sasthakonar  is a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and has published extensively in scholarly journals, and is also actively involved in the development of a “surgical cure” for Type II diabetes, the 2008 press release said.