Physician Practice

Detroit oncologist gets 45 years in prison for $34 million fraud scheme

Physician Practice Insider, July 14, 2015

A Detroit area physician was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison July 10 for operating a massive fraud scheme at his chain of cancer clinics in which he provided patients with aggressive treatments that weren’t medically necessary and then fraudulently billed Medicare and private insurers for those treatments. In total, he submitted $34 million in fraudulent claims, according to authorities.
Farid Fata, MD, a 50-year-old hematologist-oncologist, who owned and operated Michigan Hematology Oncoloy P.C., pleaded guilty in September 2014 to 13 counts of healthcare fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks, and two counts of money laundering. In addition to prison time, Fata was ordered to forfeit $17.6 million.
Fata prescribed and administered infusions or injections that were not medically necessary—including aggressive chemotherapy treatments—to 553 patients, potentially causing the death of some of those individuals, according to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Authorities accused Fata of outright lying to healthy patients and giving them false cancer diagnoses.
“Fata’s heinous acts did far worse than defraud government health care programs and breach his professional oath,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Abbate in a statement. “Fata caused grievous emotional and physical harm, betraying the trust of hundreds of innocent patients by selfishly placing his personal financial gain over the health and welfare of those who entrusted him with their medical care.”
The DOJ said Fata had clinics in seven locations as well as a diagnostic testing facility, United Diagnostics PLCC, where he used the fraudulent proceeds from his main practice to then administer unnecessary and expensive PET scans that he billed to private insurers. He also admitted to soliciting kickbacks from two hospice and home health care facilities for referring patients to those facilities.
“The many brave individuals impacted by this defendant’s criminal acts had the strength to come forward, express their experiences of pain and suffering, and collaborate with law enforcement and prosecutors to ensure that Fata’s despicable actions were brought to an end and justice delivered,” said Abbate.
The case was initially investigated by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

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