Court reviews reimbursements for cancer doc’s victims

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The government restitution plan for victims of convicted cancer doctor Farid Fata was laid out in federal court Thursday as the disgraced physician looked on.

The plan would pay victims or their surviving relatives and would be split into two categories.

One would be pay for out-of-pocket expenses to those treated by Fata and the second would pay those who needed remedial medical treatment after being prescribed unnecessary drugs and treatments from Fata such as chemotherapy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Dick said the government has collected about $13 million of the $17.6 million forfeited by Fata. A whistleblower in the case will get 10 percent, about $1.3 million of the fund, and the rest is expected to go to the victims. The court must approve the plan.

Doctors’ statements will be required for former patients or families filing under the remedial category and no document except proof of payment will be required for the out-of-pocket expenses.

“The fraud was so pervasive that we would not require patients to have any documentation,” Dick told U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.

A claims form will be drawn up and prosecutors will get input from a few patients to make sure the form is complete before a court facilitator, approved by the judge, approves it.

Funeral costs and other related losses will not be paid.

Former Fata patient Teddy Howard, who attended Thursday’s hearing, said he hopes the procedure doesn’t drag on.

Howard of Clinton Township said he was prescribed chemotherapy for two years by Fata for a blood cancer another doctor told him he never had. Howard had to undergo a liver transplant as a result.

“(Fata) jacked me up real bad. I have ongoing medical issues,” Howard said outside the federal courthouse. “The ongoing medical expenses can’t be determined (at one time) because they are ongoing.”

Robert Sobieray, who testified during Fata’s sentencing hearings that he lost his teeth when he also received needless chemotherapy, said Thursday he was “very disappointed” in how the plan will go so far because of the requirement of receipts.

“A lot of us don’t have the receipts,” said Sobieray, a Milford resident who sat in on the hearing. “I don’t have the credit cards I used so I don’t have the receipts.”

Sobieray says he has started his own GoFundMe page so he can raise $20,000 to get new teeth.

Sydney Zaremba, whose late mother, Helene, was a Fata patient, said “some of the recommendations are good.”

“(The federal government) is looking at the individuals as a priority,” she said.

Fata was sentenced July 10 by Borman to 45 years in prison for his part in an elaborate health care fraud scheme that involved giving unnecessary medications such as chemotherapy and iron infusions to 553 patients. He also was found guilty of submitting to Medicare and private insurance companies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, for about $34 million in fraudulent claims.

Federal prosecutors say he prescribed medications to bolster his profits.

Also on Thursday, one of Fata’s attorneys withdrew from the case now that the sentencing of the oncologist is complete. His co-counsel Mark Kriger will stay on.

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