Cancer Doctor Pleads Guilty to Healthcare Fraud Charges
Dr. Farid Fata, the cancer specialist accused of deliberately misdiagnosing patients and ordering unnecessary chemotherapy treatments for financial gain, has pleaded guilty to many of the criminal charges he was facing. Fata had been facing 29 charges, but he entered a guilty plea for thirteen counts of healthcare fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one charge of taking kickbacks. The unnecessary chemotherapy was part of a scheme to defraud Medicaid. According to the U.S. State Department, Fata’s Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers cost Medicaid tens of millions of dollars between August 2007 and July 2013.
For each of his guilty pleas, Fata stated, “I knew that it was medically unnecessary.” He is facing 175 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the healthcare fraud charges and up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for the money laundering charges. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade has stated she will seek a life sentence for Fata, calling the case, “One of the most egregious crimes I’ve ever seen.” Sentencing will take place in February 2015.
The families of many of Fata’s victims are disappointed by the guilty pleas, as it means their full stories will not be told. Karen Baldwin, whose husband died in 2006 after being treated by Fata, told WXYZ Detroit, “There will be no victim impact statement. There will be none of the real horror people went through…The heartbreak and loss won’t come through now.” They are also frustrated by the fact that he only pled guilty to a small handful of counts, when in reality, there were far more victims who are not being represented.
Angela Swatnek, the nurse who reported Fata to the State of Michigan for medical malpractice, was in the courtroom and was relieved to hear him admit to the claims she’d made in her 2010 report. Sawtnek told the media,“I’m not surprised; I was wondering how his team was going to defend him. The charts don’t lie.”