In a stunning admission of health care insurance and Medicare fraud, a Michigan oncologist pleaded guilty to several felony counts of defrauding the federal government. Dr. Farid Fata was accused of prescribing treatment to patients for unnecessary cancer chemotherapy treatments. A Detroit prosecutor said the the cancer fraud is among the most unsettling scams they have ever encountered.
Dr. Fata owns Michigan Hematology Oncology. The main office is located at 543 N Main St #223 in Rochester, but the doctor has several offices throughout Detroit’s suburbs.
On September 16, donning a bright-red prison jumper and in handcuffs, Fata faced a federal court judge and entered guilty pleas for deliberately ordering cancer treatment pharmaceuticals for patients, who either didn’t need the medications or were dying and wouldn’t receive any benefit.
In a twist of irony, the fraudulent Michigan doctor and his attorney were supposed to be in court to discuss a motion to suppress evidence obtained from Fata’s Gmail account. Instead, the doctor shocked those present, including the judge and prosecutor, and admitted to the heinous fraud charges against him.
The Oakland County cancer doctor pleaded guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks. And with every charge read against him in open court, Dr. Fata, with his head held down in shame, acknowledged defrauding the system and harming patients, according to a September 30 MLive report.
“I knew that it was medically unnecessary.”
Angela Swantek, a former nurse who administered chemotherapy at Fata’s offices, is the whistle blower, who complained to authorities in 2010 about what she witnessed during her time as an employee. She was in court when her former boss admitted guilt to cancer fraud.
“I’m numb,” she said in a court hallway. “I’m not surprised though; I wondered how his team was going to defend him. The charts don’t lie.”
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, completely floored by the doctor’s admission of guilt, expressed her angst over the matter. The Michigan oncologist not only admitted to ordering unnecessary chemotherapy — which many have done before him — Fata knowingly pumped the toxic drugs into their bodies without regard to the outcome. Sadly, some are said to have died, but it’s unknown if they passed away from the unneeded cancer meds or suffered in their already terminal state.
“In this case, we had Dr. Fata administering chemotherapy to people who didn’t need it, essentially putting poison into their bodies and telling them that they had cancer when they didn’t have cancer. The idea that a doctor would lie to a patient just to make money is shocking… Dr. Fata was unique in that he saw patients not as people to heal, but as commodities to exploit.”
Essentially, the Detroit-based cancer doctor conspired to commit fraud by any means necessary. Court documents show that on one occasion, Farid Fata insisted that a patient, who fell and hit his head one the floor during an office visit, complete his chemo before going to the ER.
The Medicare Program is a federally-funded subsidy that provides medical benefits to persons 65 and over or those who are disabled. The program pays for services that are “medically necessary” and are actually rendered.
Fata is 49 and became a naturalized citizen by way of his home in Lebanon just five years ago. From the time he came to the United States to when was busted by federal agents, he bilked $62 million from Medicare on billings of $150 million. His oncology patient load was about 1,200 during his tenure.
With the Michigan doctor’s guilty pleas to ordering unnecessary chemotherapy and fraudulently billing Medicare, he awaits sentencing in February and faces life in prison.