Fata patients, relatives protest restitution denials
Former patients of convicted cancer doctor Farid Fata and their family members are crying foul over being refused restitution from funds forfeited by the imprisoned physician.
Oakland Township resident Liz Lupo is among more than 700 people who have applied for restitution through the Fata Claims website. She said she and many others have been turned down for reimbursement.
“A lot of people were denied for not providing proper paperwork for paperwork that doesn’t exist,” Lupo said Tuesday. “For me, they wanted me to provide tax I.D. for my mother’s estate but one doesn’t exist.”
Lupo said Fata overprescribed chemotherapy to her 62-year-old mother, Marianne, when she was already weak and her body failing.
Fata, in his early 50s, was sentenced in July 2015 to 45 years behind bars for giving chemotherapy to cancer-free patients while over-medicating others as part of a wide-reaching health insurance scheme to bilk Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medicare of about $34 million in insurance payments.
He is serving his time in a federal prison in South Carolina.
A restitution fund of $12 million was set up nearly a year later to disburse funds to Fata’s victims or their surviving family members. Ten percent of the fund, which was set up with money and other assets forfeited by Fata, went to the whistle-blower in the case.
Lupo said she will not give up and is disputing the denial of her claim. She is seeking $11,000 toward $15,000 in funeral expenses.
Former patients or their family members can only be reimbursed for co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses and funeral costs. Receipts were required for some portions of the claim.
Lupo said some people have given up and have decided not to seek claims any longer.
“The whole experience is so traumatic,” she said. “It’s not worth the pain it costs (and) not worth the pain it has inflicted and the loss of our loved ones.”
Lupo added: “I wish they could have just taken the money they collected from Fata and divided it among the people who were patients of his or whose family members were patients of his. It would make the process simpler instead of the hoops they are making us jump through to get that small amount of money.”
Lupo and other family members plan to attend a hearing in November before a federal judge to discuss the claims.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit responded to the complaints with a statement Wednesday.
“The damage done by Farid Fata's crimes has cascaded through every aspect of the victims' families' lives, including their financial lives. The victims' wish to have all restitution requests paid in full is of course understandable, the statement said. "However, a federal statute and Court Orders require that that only certain categories of requests can be paid, and require that specific documentation be submitted to support eligible requests.
"The United States Attorney's Office cannot comment on any individual claim, but there could be many reasons for a denial, such as incomplete records, no records or other deficiencies. We encourage claimants to call the toll-free restitution number to make sure they understand what is missing in their files, and we encourage them to submit the paperwork that is needed to support claims that are eligible under the law and the Court Orders.”
Geraldine Parkin, who organized a Facebook page and family support group of former patients and their family members, said people are “just flat out denied” the restitution payments.
“It’s like you’re victimized all over again,” Parkin said Tuesday. “It should be cut and dry.”
Parkin’s husband is a former patient of Fata.
“A lot of people have just given up. They don’t want to be bothered with it,” said Parkin. “A lot of people didn’t even file because they didn’t want to be victimized again. A lot of people are just going to walk away.”
The claims administrator has asked for paperwork that people don’t have or didn’t save, said Parkin, whose husband, Tim, was treated by Fata and overdosed with cancer drugs that left “poison” in his body.
“They didn’t save some (paperwork) because they didn’t know the doctor was going to do this,” said Parkin.
What is left of the money for restitution will go to insurance companies that paid out medical reimbursement to Fata. Parkin urged former patients and their loved ones not to give up.
“ (The insurance companies) are partly to blame,” said Parkin. “If they had been doing their audits, they would have caught (Fata) way before now.”
Robert Sobieray, who says he was treated by Fata for cancer he never had, lost all of his teeth as a result of the harsh medical treatments he received from the convicted doctor. Sobieray, of Milford, says he found out Monday he was denied for half of his claims.
“I’m not giving up,” Sobieray said Tuesday, adding that he was only given 23 days to come up with documentation and receipts.
Fata treated him for 2 1/2 years and Sobieray said he has set up a GoFundMe page to raise at least $20,000 for new teeth.
The deadline to apply for the fund was last November.