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Michigan Doctor Accused of Cheating the Government $35 Million in Fake Medicare Claims

Update Date: Aug 12, 2013 09:29 AM EDT

Medicare was set up by the government to provide good medical care and treatment for people who cannot afford it. This health care insurance system gives millions of Americans the opportunity to see doctors without worrying about the large medical bills later on. Even though Medicare is set up to help patients, for one particular doctor, Medicare might have made him $35 millions richer. Dr. Farid Fata, a 48-year-old oncologist from Oakland Township, MI was accused of filing fake Medicare claims that sent millions of dollars straight to his bank account.

"Violating a patient's trust and placing them at risk through fraudulent abuse of our nation's health care system is deplorable," Robert D. Foley III, the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the case said in a news release.

Fata, the owner of the Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers (MHO) was arrested in Wayne County Jail located in Detroit, MI. His medical facilities were raided while federal agents collected all of the medical records.

According to a federal complaint, within a two-year period, Fata had exploited patients into believing that they needed certain treatment plans. The complaint writes that Fata gave "unnecessary chemotherapy to patients in remission." On top of that, Fata is accused of misdiagnosing patients on purpose so that they would seek pricey treatment options, which he filed claims for. The complaints continued that he "systematically defrauded Medicare by submitting false claims for services that were medically unnecessary."  

The federal government first started investigating Fata after complaints were filed. Fata's oncology nurse, Angela Swantek was one of the first people to report Fata's medical practices to investigators back in 2010. Swantek filed a complaint after working at one of Fata's clinic for two hours, which was enough time for her to witness patients receiving poor treatment.

In another one of the cases, Jeff Berz testified against Fata at his bond hearing that even after his father stopped responding to the chemotherapy drugs, Fata had refused to stop the treatment. The continuance of such expensive medicine allowed Fata to file Medicare claims that were making him richer and richer everyday at the expense of his patients.

"From the time that my father began getting the chemotherapy, his health deteriorated," Berz said according to ABC News.

Despite, these claims directed against Fata, his lawyer, Christopher Andreoff has expressed his belief that many of these claims are false.

"The government has not retained an expert to give an opinion that there was a mistreatment, or misdiagnosis, or unnecessary tests given to any patient," Andreoff said.

Fata's bond was set at $170,000. If paid, he will have to be imprisoned at his home with a 24-hour tracking monitor. He was forced to surrender his U.S. and Lebanese passports. Fata will return to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Tuesday Morning. If found guilty, Fata could potentially serve up to 20 years in jail. 

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