City Beat, Detroit, News

Feds seek life in prison for Lebanese-American cancer doctor

Federal prosecutors are calling Lebanese-American cancer doctor Farid Fata "the most egregious fraudster in the history of the country" for allegedly misdiagnosing patients with cancer to bill their insurance companies. (Photo via WXYZ-TV Detroit)

(DETROIT, MI) — Federal prosecutors are calling Michigan Lebanese cancer doctor Farid Fata one of the most fraudulent physicians in American history for allegedly misdiagnosing patients with cancer to bill their insurance companies.

The U.S. government says 553 patients were put through unnecessary treatments by Fata, who has pleaded guilty to fraud. This is the first time prosecutors assigned a specific number to the case.

In a sentencing memorandum from May 28, the U.S. Attorney’s office says Fata “is the most egregious fraudster in the history of the country, measured not only by the millions of dollars he stole but by the harm he inflicted on his victims, over 550 identified so far.”

Prosecutors are asking for life in prison — up to a maximum 175 years. Fata’s six cancer centers were closed in August of 2013.

“Rather than healing or easing the suffering of the cancer patients and other who sought his help, Fata administered thousands of unnecessary treatments — a variety of chemical infusions and injections, all with potentially harmful and even deadly side effects —to the patients who entrusted him with their care. He did it entirely for his own benefit,” prosecutors wrote.

Sources say his wife and children left the country and are currently living in Lebanon. His wife was the CFO of Fata’s medical company, but her name is not mentioned in the case.

Fata was reportedly looking at luxury investment opportunities along the Jounieh coastal area in Lebanon in 2010, according to released email exchanges between Fata and his financial advisor.

“I need a favor from you,” Fata wrote in one exchange. “My dad has a great deal on a castle all furnished in Adma/Lebanon!”

The castle was $3,000,000, according to email records. It is unclear whether he ever purchased the property, but investigators believe the alleged emails could trace to more information about his “numerous trusts.”

Prosecutors said Fata, who pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud, told “thousands upon thousands of lies” to “cajole, frighten, and deceive his patients.”

His case was also compared to that of notorious Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, but prosecutors said Fata’s crimes were worse, due to the “scope, duration, and enormity of the fraud.”

Fata’s sentencing hearing will take place before U.S. Judge Paul Borman on July 6. The hearing is expected to last more than a week.

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