INTERGOVERNMENTAL COLLABORATION TO APPREHEND AND PROSECUTE IN CANCER DOCTOR SCAMS
SERVICE TO THE CITIZEN AWARD WINNER
to his patients has left many with permanent health problems. In September 2014, Fata pled guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, 2 counts of money laundering and 1 count of conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks from a hospice and home care company. To date, 553 victims have been identified. Fata was sentenced in July 2015 to 45 years in prison. Approximately $17 million worth of Fata’s assets were forfeited and are currently being paid to his victims.
On Friday, August 2, 2013, this team received the initial complaint that Fata was falsely, misdiagnosing patients with cancer in order to administer unnecessary chemotherapy or other treatments. The team’s immediate concern was patient safety and ending this egregious conduct. Over the next four days this team worked around the clock to verify these allegations. On Monday, August 5, ten teams of agents simultaneously interviewed Fata’s employees. The information from these interviews was immediately relayed to prosecutors who drafted one arrest and six search warrants. Working on no sleep, Agents obtained federal magistrates approval and executed Fata’s arrest warrant on August 6, along with six search warrants. Due to the exceptionally fast work of this team, Fata was denied the opportunity to further victimize his patients. Once Fata was arrested, the team had to address numerous other challenges to include the sheer volume of patients, continued care for those patients and the distribution of patient records. Fata had over 16,000 patients and 1,700 were still active. The team’s priority from the start was patient safety and ongoing care. While search warrants were being executed, patients were provided information to other cancer centers throughout Southeast Michigan where they could be treated. Furthermore, this team devised an innovative process for copying and distributing patient files that had never been done before in federal law enforcement. The process developed by this team is the model for all large scale patient harm case which has been adopted by FBIHQ. The process developed by this team allowed for approximately 2,500 patient files to be distributed in a matter of weeks to patients and family members. A tremendous amount of effort was expended for the patients’ wellbeing and to ensure their continued care. Many patients who sought second pinions had their treatment altered or stopped. Those victims and physicians provided key evidence used to convict Fata.
This team had to be inventive to handle such a large volume of victims. The team created a telephone number, email address and website for the victims to provide information or request records. These outlets received thousands of contacts and were a tremendous resource for patients. The website also provided updates and notified the victims of court hearings. The investigative team conducted over 250 interviews of patients, oncologists, pharmaceutical executives, and Fata’s employees. The interviews were extremely time consuming and emotional. The agents who conducted patient interviews were confronted with a wide range of overwhelming emotions. Many patients were subjected to so many treatments that they will never be fully healthy again. Some patients lost limbs, all of their teeth, or suffer from lifelong chronic pain as a result of Fata’s actions. The support and respect shown to the victims by this team was instrumental in working to successfully convict Fata. As a courtesy to the victims, the United States Attorney’s Office held three town hall meetings. During these meetings the investigative team answered questions from victims and their family members regarding the investigation.
The government presented its sentencing recommendation to the court over the course of a week. Furthermore, over 100 victim statements were provided to the Court. Victims also spoke and presented their stories during the sentencing. Without the exceptional effort of this investigative team, those victims and more could still be under Dr. Fata’s care. It is investigations such as these and collaboration of this nature that exemplifies the true meaning of public service. The hard work and efforts shown by this investigative team represents the highest levels of dedication to public service and what public service is intended to embody. True public service and concern for the victims was a driving force behind the successful prosecution of a man who traded his patients’ health for his own profit.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
DEPARMENT OF HUMAN & HEALTH SERVICES,
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
This investigative team was responsible for the successful investigation and prosecution of Dr. Farid Fata, a cancer doctor who deliberately misdiagnosed and treated thousands of patients for conditions they did not have, including cancer, to maximize his fraudulent billings of over $500 million to Medicare and other insurers. The investigation uncovered multiple fraud schemes along with unprecedented and horrific exploitation of patients. Fata subjected patients to hundreds of unnecessary chemotherapy infusions and injections from 2005 to 2013. Fata also exposed many patients to radiological tests without medical necessity or on a dangerously aggressive schedule. Fata’s horrendous