Cancer doctor loses appeal of conviction on drug scheme

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Nearly a year after he was sentenced for “horrific” crimes in an elaborate scheme that involved giving chemotherapy to cancer-free patients, convicted oncologist Farid Fata on Wednesday lost his appeal of that conviction.

Fata was sentenced to 45 years behind bars after pleading guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy and receiving kickbacks in addition to two counts of promotional money laundering. Federal prosecutors said Fata , 51, of Oakland Township gave needless cancer drugs to some patients while over medicating others, as part of the expansive insurance fraud scheme.

In a 12-page ruling Wednesday from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, judges wrote: “Fata was able to make false diagnoses and administer potentially deadly, yet, unnecessary, course of treatment for hundreds of patients who relied on his presumed integrity and accepted his presumed professional judgments — all to their detriment and to Fata’s financial gain. Fata occupied a position of trust when he abused his patients by treating maladies with life-threatening chemicals.”

In his appeal, Fata argued that U.S. District Judge Paul Borman “erred by allowing victim impact statements, both written and oral, from patients whose status as actual ‘victims’ was not confirmed.” The court ruled that Fata’s claim was “without merit.”

“It is well established that a district court may consider a wide variety of information sentencing that could not be otherwise be considered at trial,” the judges wrote. The law ... makes clear that the district court in this case was permitted to consider oral and written statements from Fata’s patients, whether or not those patients were confirmed as “victims.”

Fata also claims, for the first time, that there was not enough factual basis to support his guilty plea on the money laundering charge.

Fata will be behind bars until he’s 95 for his crimes and is ineligible for parole. Fata pleaded guilty to his crimes in September 2014 and was sentenced last July.

Geraldine Parkin, who founded the former patient and family support group called Patients and Fmilies treated by Dr. Fata, said she was “exited” Fata’s appeal was turned down.

“I had no doubt that it would be turned down,” Parkin said Wednesday. “It’s no consolation. My husband is going to feel the pain and suffering.”

She said for others who lost loved ones as a result of Fata’s treatment the ruling won’t begin to heal the pain of their loss.

“But it’s great to hear the system is working,” said Parkin, whose husband, Tim, was left with a myriad of health problems after Parkin says he was “overtreated” by Fata.

At Fata’s sentencing, tearful, grief-stricken victims and their family members wore yellow to symbolize their hopes for healing and closure. They said his sentence is not long enough. Many had hoped Fata would get life behind bars or at least up to 175 years.

Fata saw patients at his Michigan Hematology and Oncology Inc. clinics throughout the Metro area.

Restitution for victims is still being worked out.

Separate civil suits are pending against Fata by former patients and family members of deceased ones.

Borman called Fata’s crimes “horrific and unprecedented” before sentencing him for the complex, far-reaching conspiracy aimed at defrauding Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield out of $34 million by prescribing unnecessary treatments.

The once highly sought-after oncologist was silent during sentencing even refusing to glance at his victims as they recounted how he deceived them and left them with chronic pain and suffering.

Fata pleaded with Borman for leniency before he was sentenced.

“I stand before you ashamed of my actions ... it all went wrong,” Fata said. “I cannot bring back the past. My quest for power is self-destructive.

“I pray for redemption ... I ask the court for mercy. They (patients) came to me seeking compassion and care ... I failed them.”

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