Former employee continues testimony in Wecht trial

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A forensic neuropathologist who formerly worked in the Allegheny County coroner's office spent another seven hours on the witness stand yesterday during the federal criminal trial of Dr. Cyril H. Wecht.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, who worked in the office from 1999 until 2007, spent most of the day on Tuesday under cross-examination by Dr. Wecht's defense attorney, Jerry McDevitt.

Dr. Omalu, who now serves as chief medical examiner in San Joaquin County, Calif., spoke about a number of his accomplishments during his tenure in the coroner's office.

Under direct questioning by the government, Dr. Omalu told the jury that he performed autopsies for Dr. Wecht's private business in county-owned facilities.

Under cross-examination, though, Dr. Omalu said that he was paid privately by Dr. Wecht to perform the work. Often, those checks from Dr. Wecht's private business were filled out for him by the county coroner's chief administrative assistant.

Dr. Omalu, who is from Nigeria, spent a good portion of his testimony in the afternoon praising Dr. Wecht, calling him his "adopted American father."

"What I am today, Dr. Wecht made me," he said. "Dr. Wecht is an institution in himself in forensic pathology."

The trial will begin its seventh day today in U.S. District Court. It is expected to last eight to 10 weeks.

Dr. Wecht is charged with 41 counts, including mail and wire fraud and theft from an organization receiving federal funds.


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