Cancer doctor Fata wants out of prison 31 years early amid COVID-19

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — Disgraced cancer doctor Farid Fata, who is serving 45 years in federal prison for prescribing chemotherapy to cancer-free patients, sought compassionate release from a judge Tuesday amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Fata, 55, listed several ailments and said the global pandemic could kill him unless he is released from a South Carolina prison 31 years early.

"With Fata’s medical conditions and age, contracting COVID-19 could very well prove to be fatal," his lawyer Jeremy Gordon wrote in a request Tuesday to U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.

Farid Fata

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit declined to comment. Prosecutors are expected to file a response soon.

The Rochester Hills doctor is the latest among high-profile felons seeking release from federal prison as officials seek to stem the spread of a virus that, according to federal statistics, has killed at least 40 inmates and infected more than 2,300 prisoners and staff.

Fata suffers from several "debilitating medical conditions," his lawyer wrote. They includes Type-2 diabetes, gastrointestinal bleeding and early dementia.

Since late March, federal prison officials have released 1,972 inmates on home confinement in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Fata was sentenced in 2015 for orchestrating a wide-ranging Medicare and insurance fraud.

He 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.

The request Tuesday is Fata's latest attempt to leave prison. Last year, he sought to have his guilty plea withdrawn, arguing that he was misled about his likely sentence.

In February, his prison warden refused to grant compassionate release.

"The medical evaluation concluded that you are not capable of only limited self-care nor confined to a bed or chair more than 50 percent of waking hours," Warden Bryan Dobbs wrote. "The evaluation concluded that all of your conditions are well-controlled through medication."

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