Judge adds $1.2 million to Fata restitution fund
The fund for former patients and family members victimized by the fraudulent treatment of convicted cancer doctor Farid Fata increased Friday when a judge ordered him to forfeit more than $1.2 million.
U.S. District Judge Paul Borman signed two forfeiture orders, for $1,091,062 and $170,432, from various financial accounts belonging to Fata, who was sentenced four years ago to 45 years in prison.
Fata pleaded guilty in connection with an expansive health care fraud in which he gave chemotherapy to patients who didn't have cancer while over-medicating others, bilking Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medicare of about $34 million in the process.
Nearly a year after Fata went to prison, the federal government established a restitution fund of $12 million to pay his victims for co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses and funeral costs. A whistle-blower in the case got 10% of the fund.
Victims and surviving family members say they are still waiting to get paid from the restitution fund, and a recent court ruling has brought an additional delay in dispersing money to them.
Some applicants for the restitution fund have been rejected.
The addition of forfeited funds is not necessarily viewed as good news by former patients and surviving family members. Liz Lupo, whose mother died of lung cancer in 2007 after being treated by Fata, points to long delays in getting the money to pay for costs associated with cancer treatments.
"Sadly, as victims, we haven’t been paid any restitution yet and it seems like most of the funds the government confiscated will go to the insurance companies," Lupo said Friday. "Victims could only claim certain expenses paid, such as office visit co-pays.
"I wish the government would equally divide any funds among all victims and/ or could offer health care because most of the victims have health conditions from Fata’s bogus, inappropriate treatments on them or our loved ones. The insurance companies shouldn't be included as victims, as they were part of the problem."
Lupo says Fata prescribed so much chemotherapy to her mother, Marianne, that it shocked emergency room doctors who saw her as she fell terminally ill under his care.
Clarkston resident Patty Hester, a retired medical professional, was treated by Fata for a precursor to a blood cancer she never had. Hester was told two days after Fata's arrest that she did not have cancer, although she was given treatment for it.
Hester said the additional forfeited money will be eaten up by insurance companies who are also in line to be reimbursed for money they paid out to Fata in medical billings.
"For us, it becomes almost irrelevant," she said, adding that she wishes the ruling surrounding the restitution fund "had been made for the patients."
Hester said she wishes "pain and suffering" had been a factor in the restitution.
"I never had cancer," she said. "(The treatments) destroyed my health ... crushed my immune system."
Fata appeared in a federal courtroom July 30 in Ann Arbor, arguing that he should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea from 2014 because he thought he would receive as much as 50% less prison time after providing federal officials with information about what Fata said was other health care fraud and national security issues.
But Fata's former defense attorneys, who represented him after his 2013 arrest until his plea nearly a year, later said they fully advised him on the consequences of entering his plea and recommended against doing so.