A federal grand jury today indicted Stephen L. Snyder on charges of trying to extort $25 million from the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS).
The flamboyant malpractice lawyer – whose Baltimore firm brashly proclaims in TV ads, “Don’t just sue them, Snyder them” – allegedly threatened to launch a public relations campaign against UMMS unless it paid him $25 million through a sham consulting agreement.
His campaign of defamation against UMMS would allegedly include a front-page article in the Baltimore Sun, a press conference, advertisements on the internet and at least two videos.
Snyder additionally threatened a lawyer working for a company that insured faculty physicians and a UMMS doctor with job loss and reputational harm if they did not aid him in his alleged conspiracy.
In response to a complaint made earlier this year by the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission, Snyder denied he was seeking to enrich himself while representing the wife of a transplant patient who died at UMMS.
Instead, Snyder said, the hospital was trying to keep him from filing more malpractice cases and asserted that an FBI investigation had cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Today’s indictment was announced by Jennifer C. Boone, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore office, and Robert K. Hur, U.S. Attorney for Maryland.
A $25 Million “Janitor”
During settlement talks over the malpractice case, Snyder allegedly told UMMS representatives that his client’s case was “not worth that much money,” and that he would accept between $3 million and $5 million on the widow’s behalf so long as he got $25 million personally.
During the talks, according to federal prosecutors, Snyder played videos he had produced and said he would air if his demands were not met.
One video showed pictures of several doctors who allegedly had either left UMMS or been demoted for making critical surgical mistakes. In another video, images of the necrotic fingertips and an amputated leg were displayed of the client whose kidney transplant failed.
Asked what he would do in return for the $25 million he demanded from UMMS, Snyder reportedly said that, for all he cared, he could be “a janitor.”
If convicted, Snyder faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for extortion and for each of seven counts of violating the Travel Act.
The 72-year-old currently lives in Miami Beach, Florida.