Psychiatrist Sentenced to 11 Years for Sledgehammer Attack

A New York psychiatrist who has been suspended from practising pending an investigation by state licensing authorities has been sentenced to 11 years in state prison for her role in the attempted murder of her child’s father, who is also a psychiatrist.

Pamela Buchbinder pled guilty to first degree burglary and assault on September 7, almost exactly 10 years after the November 2012 attack on Michael Weiss, MD. Weiss was beaten with a sledgehammer and stabbed multiple times but survived the attack.

The September plea deal was announced by the Manhattan district attorney, who said that Buchbinder acknowledged she had enlisted the help of her then-19-year-old cousin Jacob Nolan to kill Weiss. Buchbinder was in a custody battle with Weiss over their then-5-year-old child.

At the October 11 sentencing, Buchbinder and her defense attorney attempted to withdraw that plea. NBC4 New York reported that Buchbinder claimed she was not in her right mind on the day of the plea because she had received a “contact high” from others in her holding cell who were using synthetic marijuana and that she had not taken her prescribed medications that day.

The judge did not entertain the request and proceeded with the sentencing.

Buchbinder has been held at Rikers Island prison, in East Elmhurst, New York, since she was arrested in 2017, so has already served 5 years of her 11-year sentence. She must also serve 5 years of post-release probation.

Insurance Policy Beneficiary

Buchbinder’s cousin was convicted of second-degree attempted murder in 2016 and was sentenced to 9.5 years in prison.

In a 2017 interview with CBS News, Nolan, who said he was “bipolar,” claimed Buchbinder had manipulated him into trying to kill her child’s father by telling him “horror stories” about Weiss. Soon after the interview, Buchbinder was arrested.

In 2022, the New York Post reported that Buchbinder had been named a beneficiary of Weiss’ $1.5 million life insurance policy several days before the attack.

Prosecutors had surveillance footage of Buchbinder with Nolan at a Manhattan hardware store purchasing the sledgehammer. According to the CBS report, at the time of her arrest, she also was apparently preparing to flee.

She was denied bail and has been held at Rikers Island since her arrest.

Buchbinder was licensed to practice in New York in 1999. In April 2018, the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct issued an interim order that precluded her from practicing medicine in New York. It was mailed to Buchman at Rikers Island.

The interim order will be in effect until the board completes its investigation. As of press time, the board had not updated its files.

Alicia Ault is a Saint Petersburg, Florida-based freelance journalist whose work has appeared in publications including JAMA and You can find her on Twitter @aliciaault.

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