Source: Sherman Publications

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Local cancer doc accused of fraud

by Andrea Beaudoin

August 14, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is alleging a blood and cancer doctor with six offices, including one in Independence Township, of defrauding Medicare and having patients undergo unnecessary health treatments.

Federal agents are accusing Dr. Farid Fata of defrauding the federal health care insurance by over $35 million. The 48-year-old is also accused of having patients undergo unnecessary treatment like chemotherapy, a highly intense cancer treatment often makes patients very sick by injecting poisonous substances and nearly destroying their immune system.

Agents claim the high profile doctor, prolonged chemotherapy treatments of patients in remission and also gave dying patients treatment that would not prolong life.

Fata owns Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers (MHO) which in addition to Clarkston has offices in Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy and Oak Park. FBI Agents arrested Fata on August 6 and raided his Oakland Township home and medical offices in Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills and Rochester.

Special agents also said Fata treated a man who had suffered a head injury, but rather than send the man to the emergency he made him undergo chemotherapy treatment first.

The man died from the head injury.

The FBI said it was through MHO that Dr. Fata allegedly submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary cancer and blood services. "MHO billed Medicare for approximately $35 million dollars over a two-year period, approximately $25 million of which is attributable to Dr. Fata," said agents.

Authorities also said that Fata made over $24 million in infusion treatments over a two-year period-more than any other Michigan doctor.

All of the allegations are a violation of patient's trusts, said authorities.

"Violating patients' trust and placing them at risk through fraudulent abuse of our nation's health care system is deplorable and a crime which the FBI takes most seriously. The FBI remains committed to the arrest and prosecution of those who commit health care fraud," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley.

The complaint also alleges Fata prescribed unnecessary chemotherapy to patients in remission; deliberate misdiagnosis of patients as having cancer to justify unnecessary cancer treatment; chemotherapy to end-of-life patients who would not benefit from the treatment; deliberate misdiagnosis of patients without cancer to justify expensive testing; fabrication of other diagnoses such as anemia and fatigue to justify unnecessary hematology treatments; and distribution of controlled substances to patients without medical necessity or administered them at dangerous levels.

Fata was released last Thursday on $170,000 bond and was ordered to have no contact with medical offices or patients. He is also ordered to wear a tether or electronic monitoring device to keep track of his whereabouts and remain under house arrest at his Oakland Township estate.

On Tuesday, a judge was expected to hear Federal Prosecutors request to up Fata's bond to $9 million. Prosecutors claim Fata and his wife have personal wealth worth millions.

Patient well being remains a top priority for authorities.

"Our first priority is patient care," said United States Attorney Barbara McQuade. "We have set up a victim hotline so patients can access their files and get questions answered."

The FBI said patients who have questions concerning their medical records or in need of information regarding the investigation and prosecution can call the United States Attorney's Office Information Line at 888-702-0553.

Patents can also reach MHO at 248-844-5690 or a nurse manager at 248-505-2013 or call your primary care doctor.

Over the years Fata has been active in Clarkston. In 2009 and 2010, MHO partnered up with other health care facilities with hosted several events in the community including a breast health seminar in 2009 and Cancer Survivor Day.

Efforts to contact Dr. Fata or his office were unsuccessful.