A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Georges Bensimhon, an anesthesiologist from Allentown, Pa., Sept. 11 for the attempted murder of his son-in-law, Dr. Seth Alan Hoffer of Cleveland Heights.
The grand jury charged Bensimhon with one count of attempted aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of felonious assault, according to a news release from Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty office. All the charges are felonies.
A spokesman for the county prosecutor’s office said Bensimhon would be arraigned later in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
Bensimhon’s daughter, Danielle, is in a custody battle with Hoffer which is in the domestic relations division of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. The couple has a daughter, who will turn 2 on Oct. 25. She lives with her mother in Florida.
Danielle Bensimhon once served as cantor of Congregation Bethaynu in Pepper Pike. Congregation Bethaynu closed in April 2011. She now is cantor at Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., the city in which she lives. She did not respond to a call to that temple.
According to Cleveland Heights police reports, Hoffer awoke at 5 a.m. Sept. 4, showered and texted his 7-year-old daughter's nanny in preparation for his trip to Florida his younger daughter, his daughter by first wife Rachel (Raviv) Hoffer, who died of cancer Sept. 12, 2007.
Hoffer then grabbed a packed bag and walked out his back door to load it into his car. On his way back inside, two steps past the gate separating the back yard from the fence, he heard footsteps behind him.
Georges Bensimhon then allegedly attacked Hoffer with a pry bar. Alerted first by a rustling in the bushes, Hoffer turned to encounter Bensimhon, who hit him in the forehead.
“He turned around and was struck in the head by a blunt object,” according to police reports. Hoffer's assailant was dressed in black and wore a mask. Hoffer was struck several more times and a struggle ensued during which he was bitten often.
“Seth stated once he gained control of the suspect, the suspect yelled 'Alan, get off me! I can’t breathe!'" according to the report. "Seth stated he then identified the suspect as Georges Joseph Bensimhon, his father-in-law. At this point, neighbors called 9-1-1 and police soon arrived.”
Bensimhon was arrested in connection with the attack while in possession of a tape-wrapped weapon. When police arrived, they found him pinned by his intended victim. Hoffer, a neurosurgeon at University Hospitals, is 39 years old, stands 5 feet 10 inches and weighs 220 pounds. Bensimhon is 66 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds.
A native of Fez, Morocco, Bensimhon posted $500,000 bond hours after his arrest, according to local law enforcement authorities who are working with their counterparts in South Whitehall Township, the Allentown suburb where Bensimhon lives.
Larry Zuckerman, Bensimhon’s attorney, would not comment on the case. Attempts to reach Bensimhon were unsuccessful.
Police reports said Bensimhon drove an employee’s car to Cleveland Heights to attack Hoffer. A 2008 Nissan belonging to Kenneth Patton of Allentown was found in the parking lot of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library on Lee Road, police said.
Danielle Bensimhon surrendered her father’s Israeli and U.S. passports to Cleveland Heights police Sept. 5 as a condition of his bond. She has not made a formal statement to police.
Hoffer could not be reached for comment. Hoffer’s mother, Joyce Hoffer, said she would not comment on advice of her attorney.
According to reports, police found syringes, hypodermic needles, injection-ready sedatives, money, keys and a black mask and hood in a backpack belonging to Bensimhon when they arrived at the Hoffer house on Dellwood Road just before 6 a.m. Sept. 4.
They had received a “disturbance call” and encountered numerous neighbors on their way to Hoffer’s back yard, police said.
“Officers were advised that a male was bleeding heavily and yelling for help,” said one report. “Officers were also advised that another male was being detained on scene, believed to be the suspect, in the backyard of that address.
According to another of the six police reports, “I noticed a male face down in the drive dressed all in black with a black tactical mask and blue surgical gloves. The gloves were torn on the tops and a small pool of blood was forming in the drive."
According to another report, Hoffer, his face, neck and arms covered in blood, was “on top of the suspect’s back, holding him down.”
Georges Joseph Bensimhon was on his stomach, his left arm bent at a 90-degree angle, his right arm straight out. “Georges took his mask off and asked ‘Can I sit up? My arm is broken.’”
Hoffer was taken to University Hospitals, while Bensimhon was taken to Cleveland Clinic.
The incident was reported Sept. 7 by www.thecrimebeat.com.