Sunday Physician Phunnies: The Case of the Digitless Dentist

“On any other day … this might seem strange.” (Nicolas Cage, Con Air)

It seems that Doctor John Rende, a Jacksonville Florida oral surgeon, had grown bored with his mundane career and needed more excitement. So he and his friends hatched a plan to amputate a finger, which he would then attribute to a woodworking accident. That way he would be disabled and of course, unable to work. He’d claim a comfortable insurance settlement. His wife Mary thought it was pretty cool, too. Who really needs a husband with all 10 fingers? Are these people clever or what? 


Here’s a hint: NEVER assume a doctor is smarter than you are.

But on the day of reckoning John got cold feet, so to speak, possibly anticipating the pain involved. His buddies, Robert Alberton, age 54, and Kenneth Alberton, age 49, however, had no such fear. They grabbed doctor John, held him down against his will and proceeded chop off one, relatively insignificant index finger, with an axe.

At some point after the bleeding stopped, Doctor John Rende collected a $1,300,000 check from his insurance company. And after paying his brothers the agreed upon finger-fee of $300,000, he purchased a yacht to ease his trauma, which he promptly christened Minus One. And life with nine fingers was grand indeed.

For a few months anyway.

But it wasn’t long before the axe-brothers wanted more than their measly $300,000. They wanted a lot more. They demanded $500,000. 

Now, surgeon Rende, age 38 at the time, knew blackmail when he smelled it – he was a smart fellow. (after all, he had that medical school diploma on his wall) So he called the FBI to report this outrageous extortion of his legitimately acquired theft. Pitting doctor against brothers, the feds had to decide who to believe. They elected to trust the fellow who  had lied to the insurance carrier,  conspired with his wife, collected the most money and bought the yacht. He was, after all, a doctor. The other two were plain ordinary low-lifes.

The brothers were arrested, charged and found guilty of Aiding and Abetting Fraud and were held without bond. John Rende was eventually released because, well, he’s a doctor with 9 fingers.

For our part we’d be gleeful to report all 4 of these imbeciles were lost at sea during a Florida hurricane. But alas, they’re all very much alive. We can only wonder what happened to the nifty boat, Minus One. Here’s to hoping she’s bobbing in the sunshine somewhere, under a totally respectable flag. Owned and cherished by somebody – anybody, really – with 10 fingers and no history of appallingly stupid scams.

Here’s more mental midgetry in a lab coat, if you can stand it:

(For still more seriously goofy physician misbehavior, download a copy of “America’s Dumbest Doctors.”)

Have a relaxing weekend readers.




2 thoughts on “Sunday Physician Phunnies: The Case of the Digitless Dentist

  1. Ron Slade, Pharm.D. says:

    One of our hospital’s patients showed up in the E.R. with difficulty breathing. Since she was an asthmatic, the attending physician and, apparently, another M.D. who was incredibly arrogant, both decided to prescribe theophyllin. One M.D. prescribed the drug orally, the other intravenously. The pharmacist who received both orders cancelled one dosage form and kept the other.
    Theophyllin, in my personal opinion, has no place in such a situation. There are other, far more effective drugs for use in a severe attack of asthma.
    Sent to the floor, the patient convulsed and died. It seems that she had been taking oral theophyllin all along, and her physician had not bothered to obtain periodic blood levels. She was in respiratory depression from elevated blood levels of theophyllin when she came in. The additional theophyllin she received was apparently enough to kill her.
    Anyone held accountable? Not in a money-driven system.

    • Ron –
      Thank you very much for telling your story. I was not even out of medical school before I witnessed a physician commit murder. It’s one of the stories I relate in my book.

      I suspect many readers believe these incidents almost never happen.

      As you well know, in modern medicine, they happen all the time.

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