Restitution website launched for Fata victims

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A website and claim form allowing former victims of convicted oncologist Farid Fata to file for restitution was launched Thursday.

Victims, said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade in explaining the restitution program, “have waited a long time for justice.”

A toll free number also was set up as part of the federal government’s restitution process for former victims of the imprisoned cancer doctor. Federal prosecutors have identified about 553 victims but say there could be many more.

The website, fataclaims.com, was available Thursday, offering claim forms and other information in the case. A restitution fund has been set up with $11.7 million for his former patient’s out-of-pocket expenses.

“It is our goal is to take all of this money that we recovered from Dr. Fata and return it to the victims in some way,” said McQuade during a news interview about the restitution program. “I know that they really want is for this never to have happened and to have their health completely restored and their trust in doctors restored. We can’t do that, but we’re doing everything we can to take his ill-gotten gains and share it back with the victims so that they can at least offset some of their out-of-pocket expenses.”

Money for restitution came from $13 million in liquidated assets of the former Oakland Township resident. Funeral expenses and mental health treatment will be reimbursed out of $1.5 million separate fund. The fund will not reimburse victims for “pain and suffering,” lost wages, attorneys’ fees or travel expenses for medical treatment. Individuals will need some documentation as part of the restitution process.

Ten percent of the total funds is going to the whistleblower who blew the lid on Fata’s crimes, including prescribing needless medical procedures for patients who didn’t have cancer while over-medicating others as part of an elaborate scheme to bilk Medicare and other insurers out of $34 million. Fata also undertreated some cancer patients.

Fata, 51, pleaded guilty in 2014 to health care fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to give or receive kickbacks. He was sentenced U.S. District Judge Paul Borman to 45 years behind bars in July.

Fata is in a federal prison in Salters, South Carolina.

About 17,000 patients were seen at Fata’s seven clinics in Metro Detroit, which were operated as part of his Michigan Hematology and Oncology Inc. practice. But McQuade said not all the patients were seen by Fata. Patients saw other doctors at the practice.

At Fata’s sentencing, patients painfully told Borman that the oncologist was “evil” and “a monster.” They described how they or their loves ones were given grueling chemotherapy and prescribed other toxic drugs as they were over-medicated by Fata or his staff. Federal prosecutors called Fata’s deeds “extraordinarily evil.”

“One hundred percent (of Fata’s patients) had been mistreated in some way,” said McQuade. “We want every (Fata) patient to submit a claim. We don’t want to leave any money on the table.”

During his sentencing, Fata begged Borman for mercy.

“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.”

The toll free number is 1 (877) 202-3282. There are 35 trained operators to help individuals get claim forms and information about the restitution process. Staff is available 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The deadline for submitting a claim form is Oct. 5.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027