Oncologist Indicted on Medicare Fraud Charges for Giving Patients Unnecessary Cancer Treatments
An oncologist from Michigan has been accused of Medicare fraud for unnecessary cancer treatments to patients who were in remission.
Federal prosecutors indicted 48-year-old Dr. Farid Fata, from Oakland Township, of “systematically defrauded Medicare by submitting false claims for services that were medically unnecessary.” The federal complaint alleges that Dr. Fata robbed the federal medical program of over $35 million in a 2-year period.
Fata earned about $24.3 million in drug infusion billings directly to Medicare, “more than any hematologist/oncologist in the state of Michigan during that time period,” FBI agent Brian Fairweather wrote in the criminal complaint. The complaint also alleges that co-workers and former employees witnessed dozens of people going in and out of the office every day for consultations, but Fata spent less than 5 minutes with each of them before prescribing chemotherapy to treat their cancer, and billing Medicare. Fata also allegedly hired doctors who may not have been properly licensed to practice medicine.
On Tuesday, August 6th, federal authorities took Fata into custody, and raided several of his offices in the Detroit area. Fata owns and operates Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers. The investigators seized medical records that they believe indicate Fata misdiagnosed patients in a scam to steal money from the federal government.
At a hearing on Friday, August 9th, Angela Swantek, an oncology nurse who first complained of Fata’s Medicare fraud in 2010, testified about his practice.
“I don’t know how he’s gotten away with it for this long,” she told ABC News. “I was disgusted. I got in the car, I was still sitting in the parking lot and I was truly almost in tears just because of what I saw and how patients were getting their chemotherapy.”
Fata is due back in court on Tuesday, August 13th for a bond hearing. His bond is currently set at $170,000 with strict limitations, including home confinement and an electronic monitoring anklet worn 24 hours a day. However, prosecutors want to raise his bond to $9 million.
Medicare Fraud Suspect Might Be Flight Risk
On Monday, August 12th, federal prosecutors want Fata’s bond raised to $9 million because they believe the Medicare fraud suspect is a flight risk. They are also asking that Fata prove the funds from his business came from a “legitimate, and not illegitimate, source.”
Dr. Fata’s defense attorney, however, insists that the doctor will not flee the country. Although Fata was born in Lebanon, he has been a US citizen for years. Fata “does not own a home in Lebanon, and since 2001 only traveled to Lebanon one time … to see his ill father, who is 80 and suffers from severe heart and liver disease,” defense lawyer Christopher Andreoff said in a court filing. He said his client “has no foreign bank accounts or liquid assets other than those in Michigan which were seized by the government.”
Prosecutors are still looking for victims of Dr. Fata’s Medicare fraud and malpractice. Patients with knowledge of Dr. Fata’s who have questions concerning their medical records, or who have information regarding the investigation and prosecution, are urged to contact the US Attorney’s Office Information Line at 1-888-702-0553.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Protect Medicare Fraud Whistleblowers
If you have first-hand knowledge of government fraud occurring at your place of employment or your doctor’s office, including Medicare fraud, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help protect your rights. In order to help the government provide the best possible services, Medicaid and Medicare fraud must be reported as soon as possible. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm understand the complexity of qui tam and whistleblower suits, and we offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today.803.252.4800