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Surgeon also charged with embezzlement

A former Duke surgeon is the second ex-employee to be charged for the embezzlement of $267,000 from the University.

Eric DeMaria, 51, was arrested Tuesday morning, following the Nov. 24 arrest of John Cotton, a former Duke employee who is charged with involvement in the same theft. Both are accused of embezzlement of more than $100,000, according to the arrest warrants from the Durham County Magistrate’s Office. Cotton is also accused of securing property under false pretenses, abusing his position to order products and services worth $58,706 for personal use.

Cotton, 49, was a business manager in the surgical department at Duke Hospital, and DeMaria was his boss. Both were removed from their positions Aug. 1, said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. He added that no further arrests are expected.

Although Duke police initially investigated the embezzlement, the case is now being handled by the Durham County District Attorney’s Office, Schoenfeld said.

DeMaria was director of Bariatric Surgery and vice chair of Network General Surgery at Duke University Health System, according to Durham Regional Hospital’s website. Under DeMaria’s leadership, the Duke Weight Loss Surgery Center at Durham Regional was named an American Society for Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence, a recognition of a record of favorable surgery outcomes.

Both were released from Durham County Jail after each posted $25,000 in secured bonds. The embezzlement allegedly occurred between Jan. 23, 2009 and Dec. 24, 2009, according to the arrest warrants.

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