A doctor who made millions of dollars by putting more than 500 patients through unnecessary and grueling cancer treatments and then billing insurers has been sentenced to 45 years in prison.
Dr Farid Fata, who worked in suburban Detroit, Michigan, poisoned around 550 victims many of whom did not actually have cancer, by giving them excessive chemotherapy and other treatments.
His actions wrecked his patients’ health, with many sustaining chronic health problems such as brittle bones and fried organs. Other victims lost their homes and jobs, and were forced into bankruptcy.
On Friday, Fata broke down in court as he was sentenced to more than four decades in prison for what the judge described as a ‘huge, horrific series of criminal acts’ that had affected hundreds.
The doctor had remained stone-faced earlier in the week as his former patients had appeared in court to detail the shocking consequences of being put through unnecessary chemotherapy.
But during his sentencing, Fata, whose business, Michigan Hematology Oncology, had many upscale offices in the area, repeatedly broke down crying as he begged for mercy.
Speaking publicly for the first time since he was arrested in August 2013, the oncologist said: ‘I misused my talents, yes, and permitted this sin to enter me because of power and greed.’
He added: ‘My quest for power is self-destructive.’
Fata, who turned and apologized to his victims in the courtroom, admitted his patients had knocked on his door ‘seeking compassion and care’, but he had ‘failed them’
Fata asked Borman for mercy. But a prosecutor reminded the judge of the victims’ “lifetime of suffering.”
The judge, calling Fata’s crimes “huge” and “horrific,” deliberated for about an hour before sentencing Fata to 45 years behind bars.
By then, Fata’s tears were gone. He stared ahead, looking emotionless.
His victims, many of whom wore bright yellow to the sentencing to symbolize the last day Fata would see the sun, remained quiet in the courtroom. Afterwards, their disappointment and anger spilled out.
“It’s not enough,” said Geraldine Parkin, whose husband underwent unneeded chemotherapy.
She, like many others, wanted the judge to impose the maximum possible sentence of 175 years; Fata’s lawyers had asked for 25.
“We expected more,” said Steve Flagg, whose wife, Monica, testified about learning of her misdiagnosis after her leg snapped in half.
As for Fata’s tears, Flagg said: “It was just a show.”
Authorities said they, too, were disappointed in the length of the prison term, but felt confident that it would encompass all, or most, of his life.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan called Fata’s scheme “the most serious fraud case in the history of the country.” No prior investigation, she said, included “the kind of stunning physical harm that we saw in this case.”
Noting that chemotherapy is toxic to both cancerous and healthy tissue, McQuade said Fata “gave poison to these people not to keep them alive but to make money.”
Outside court, many former patients were disappointed with the punishment, deeming it too short.
‘Prosecutors did a fantastic job – and he got 45 years. It’s a lifetime sentence for the rest of us,’ said Monica Flagg, 53, who was treated for cancer before doctors examining a broken leg found she had no cancer. ‘What about all the grave markers out there that all the victims’ families have to look at?