Hematologist-oncologist Farid Fata, MD, of suburban Detroit, Michigan, used to live in a world of fashion shows, gala balls, and masquerade parties sponsored by Swan for Life, a nonprofit cancer education and support group he founded.
Dr. Fata, 49, now faces up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty on September 16 to administering chemotherapy to patients who didn't need it so he could defraud Medicare and private insurers, federal prosecutors said in a news release. These and other scams he admitted to resulted in $225 million alone in fraudulent Medicare claims between August 2007 and July 2013 and actual payments of $91 million.
Dr. Fata made so much money that in 2010 he considered buying a $3 million furnished castle in his native Lebanon, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the federal district court in Detroit.
He was arrested on August 6, 2013, and charged with Medicare fraud after current and former employers told federal investigators what was going on in his practice and its 7 locations. The initial criminal complaint in the case quotes them as saying that Dr. Fata:
Falsified cancer diagnoses to justify chemotherapy
Ordered maintenance doses of chemotherapy for patients whose cancer was in remission
Ordered chemotherapy for patients with advanced cancer who would not benefit from it
Ordered intravenous immunoglobulin for patients whose antibody levels did not warrant the treatment
An updated federal indictment filed in the case said that Dr. Fata's chemotherapy treatments of patients who did not have cancer went on for years.
"Dr. Fata admitted that he put greed before the health and safety of his patients," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell in the fed's news release. "The mere thought of what he did is chilling."
Prosecutors said that Dr. Fata also pleaded guilty to more traditional scams, such as seeking kickbacks from a hospice and home healthcare company in exchange for referrals and using the proceeds of oncology fraud to fund a diagnostic facility of his that performed unnecessary positron emission tomography scans.
Collaborating on the criminal investigation were the FBI, the US Department of Health & Human Services, the IRS, and the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Dr. Fata is scheduled to appear in federal district court in Detroit for sentencing on February 23, 2015.
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Cite this: Physician Pleads Guilty to Unneeded Chemo in Fraud Case - Medscape - Sep 17, 2014.