Oakland County Doctor and Owner of Michigan Hematology and Oncology Centers Charged in $35 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 06, 2013|
Dr. Farid Fata, 48, of Oakland Township, Michigan, was arrested this morning and charged in a criminal complaint for his role in a health care fraud scheme which involved submitting false claims to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary, including chemotherapy treatments, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Joining in the announcement were Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley, III, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh, Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade stated, “Our first priority is patient care. The agents and attorneys acted with great attention to detail to stop these allegedly dangerous practices as quickly as possible, and we have set up a victim hotline so that patients can access their files and get questions answered.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley, III stated, “Violating patients’ trust and placing them at risk through fraudulent abuse of our nation’s health care system is deplorable and a crime which the FBI takes most seriously. The FBI remains committed to the arrest and prosecution of those who commit health care fraud.”
HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh stated, “The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious, not only in terms of potential Medicare dollars improperly obtained, but patient safety as well. The OIG will aggressively investigate allegations of this nature in order to ensure the safety of Medicare patients and to protect vital taxpayer dollars.”
According to the complaint, Dr. Fata owns and operates Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers (MHO), which has offices in Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy, and Oak Park. It was through MHO that Dr. Fata allegedly submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary services, including chemotherapy treatments, positron emission tomograph (PET) scans, and a variety of cancer and hematology treatments for patients who did not need them. In the course of the scheme, Dr. Fata falsified and directed others to falsify documents. MHO billed Medicare for approximately $35 million dollars over a two-year period, approximately $25 million of which is attributable to Dr. Fata.
The complaint further alleges that Dr. Fata directed the administration of unnecessary chemotherapy to patients in remission; deliberate misdiagnosis of patients as having cancer to justify unnecessary cancer treatment; administration of chemotherapy to end-of-life patients who would not benefit from the treatment; deliberate misdiagnosis of patients without cancer to justify expensive testing; fabrication of other diagnoses such as anemia and fatigue to justify unnecessary hematology treatments; and distribution of controlled substances to patients without medical necessity or administered them at dangerous levels.
The complaint goes on to allege that Dr. Fata directed that chemotherapy be administered to patients who had other serious medical conditions that required immediate treatment before he would permit them to go to the hospital. In one instance, a male patient fell down and hit his head when he came to MHO. Dr. Fata insisted that the patient receive his chemotherapy before he could be taken to the emergency room. MHO administered the chemotherapy, after which the patient was taken to the emergency room. The patient later died from his head injury. In the second instance, a patient came to MHO with extremely low sodium levels, which can be fatal. Dr. Fata again directed that the patient first receive chemotherapy before being taken to the emergency room. MHO administered the chemotherapy and the patient was taken to the emergency room and hospitalized.
Dr. Fata will be making his initial appearance in federal court this afternoon at 1 p.m.
Patients who have questions concerning their medical records and/or information regarding this investigation and prosecution can call the United States Attorney’s Office Information Line at 888-702-0553.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Catherine Dick, supervisor of the Detroit Medicare Fraud Strike Force, and Trial Attorney Matthew Thuesen of the Department of Justice as well as Sarah Resnick Cohen, Deputy Chief of the Health Care Fraud Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Justin Bidwell, Special Assistant United States Attorney. The investigations were conducted jointly by the FBI and HHS- OIG, along with the assistance of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.