Feds slam cancer doctor Fata's request for new trial
The U.S. government is slamming convicted cancer doctor Farid Fata's claims that he did not receive adequate legal counsel during his trial, saying it has proof that Fata pleaded guilty with full knowledge and understanding of what he was doing.
A federal judge in March agreed to conduct a hearing on Fata's request to set aside his guilty plea to health care fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to give or receive kickbacks in connection with a scheme to bilk millions from insurers by giving chemotherapy to patients who didn't have cancer.
In filings last week, federal prosecutors cited legal documents presented by Fata's own lawyer that showed an original, signed document from a meeting with Fata on Sept. 4, 2014, days before Fata pleaded guilty during a teary statement before U.S. District Judge Paul Borman. Fata was sentenced in July 2015 to 45 years in prison.
"That document contains Fata's true understanding of his attorneys' advice and the possible outcomes of pleading guilty," wrote federal prosecutors in legal briefs filed June 7. "It contradicts most, if not all, of the assertions made in Fata's Affidavit submitted in support of his Motion (to have his prison sentence vacated)."
Fata claims lawyer Christopher Andreoff assured him that he would get a shorter sentence if he pleaded guilty. But the government didn’t seek his cooperation, and he didn’t get a break.
"Andreoff advised that he would be able to secure a sentence of 20 years as opposed to the life sentence that government was seeking," Fata wrote in his legal pleadings. In his legal response, Andreoff denied telling the oncologist that he could get him a 20-year sentence and that the doctor wasn’t reluctant to plead guilty.
Federal prosecutors wrote: "Directly contrary to Fata's current assertions that Mr. Andreoff urged him to plead guilty, both of Fata's attorneys recommended that he go to trial absent a negotiated plea agreement. Furthermore, Fata understood there was no guarantee he would receive any cooperation credit should he plead guilty and attempt to cooperate with the government."
The documents, which prosecutors say show written communication between Fata and his attorneys, were part of "reciprocal discovery" shared with the government for Fata's upcoming hearing on his motion in federal court to have his prison sentence vacated.
The documents were retrieved by Andreoff in April for review by federal prosecutors for Fata's hearing next month.
Fata is scheduled for a hearing on his request for a new trial at 10 a.m. July 30 at the U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor. He is representing himself in the matter.
With their legal briefs, prosecutors provided documents from Andreoff that they say show Fata initialed several statements, written by co-counsel Mark Kriger, including one in which Fata allegedly gave his signature.
It read: "My attorneys have recommended that I proceed to trial because there is no guarantee that the outcome will be better if I decide to plead guilty and that if I plead guilty the government's recommendation will in all likelihood be life in prison."
The prosecutors also say Fata "forged" the signatures of Andreoff and Kriger in his legal briefs to have his prison sentence set aside: "This is not the first time Fata has presented forged signatures to the Court in support of his claim."
Fata, 54, of Oakland Township bilked Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medicare of about $34 million by prescribing chemotherapy to cancer-free patients while over-medicating others at his five Detroit-area hematology and oncology clinics.