DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The government says 553 patients were put through unnecessary treatments by an Oakland County cancer doctor who pleaded guilty to fraud.
It’s the first time that federal prosecutors have put a number on Dr. Farid Fata’s victims, and they’re asking for life in prison — up to a maximum 175 years.
In a sentencing memorandum filed on May 28, the U.S. Attorney’s office says Fata, “is the most egregious fraudster in the history of the country, measured not only by the millions of dollars he stole but by the harm he inflicted on his victims, over 550 identified so far.”
Fata pleaded guilty to fraud last September, admitting that many of the patients he treated didn’t need the chemotherapy he ordered.
“Rather than healing or easing the suffering of the cancer patients and other who sought his help, Fata administered thousands of unnecessary treatments — a variety of chemical infusions and injections, all with potentially harmful and even deadly side effects —to the patients who entrusted him with their care. He did it entirely for his own benefit,” prosecutors wrote in the filing. adding that Fata told “thousands upon thousands of lies” to “cajole, frighten and deceive his patients…”
Prosecutors likened Fata’s case to that of notorious Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff — who was sentenced to life up to 150 years — but said that Fata’s “extraordinarily evil” crimes were worse, due to the “scope, duration and enormity of the fraud.”
Fata has agreed that the government can prove that he was paid at least $17 million by two insurers, but prosecutors say that amount doesn’t capture the total financial value of his fraudulent claims.
Fata will return to Detroit federal court on July 6. The hearing is expected to last more than a week.
A resident of Oakland Township, Fata owned and operated Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers (MHO), which had offices in Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy and Oak Park.
Fata is a native of Lebanon. He remains jailed without bond.
Survivors of two of Fata’s patients told The Detroit News they’re disappointed that that the full story won’t be told in court. Liz Lupo, whose mother died of lung cancer in 2007, and Cynthia Burt, whose sister died in 2011, think Fata’s treatments were responsible for their loved ones’ deaths.
“He’s not being charged with enough,” Lupo said. “He pled guilty to a handful of patients when there were thousands. We wanted to hear the details about how he was allowed to (do this).”
But said she’s glad Fata accepted responsibility and hopes he’ll pay for his crimes with life in prison, but she said the plea deal cheats “the patients and family members (who) are not going to get the answers they seek.”