Judges OK bail, tether for doc in Medicare case

By David N. Goodman

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- A suburban-Detroit doctor charged with conducting a multimillion-dollar Medicare fraud scheme can leave jail if he posts a $170,000 bond and remains electronically tethered to his home, two federal judges ruled last Thursday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Grand last Thursday set release conditions for Dr. Farid Fata. His lawyer and prosecutors both appealed, and U.S. District Judge David Lawson upheld the conditions.

A hearing last Friday before a third judge, Sean Cox, was to confirm that the cash bond that Fata posts isn't drawn from funds linked to the Medicare fraud case, defense lawyer Christopher Andreoff told The Associated Press.

Fata is charged with deliberately misdiagnosing patients with cancer and ordering chemotherapy for others who didn't need it at Detroit-area clinics. The government says Fata illegally billed Medicare for tens of millions of dollars.

At last Thursday's first hearing, Grand set a $170,000 cash bond for Fata and said he would have to remain electronically tethered at his home if released. Grand also ordered that Fata not write prescriptions or otherwise practice medicine and have no contact with his clinics' staff members.

Andreoff said he objected to the size of the bond, the home-detention requirement and the ban on his client practicing medicine.

In seeking to keep Fata jailed, prosecutors said the charges are serious and said they feared Fata would flee to his native Lebanon if released from jail. They said he has access to millions of dollars to finance a flight.

Andreoff said Fata is a U.S. citizen and not a flight risk.

Fata "does not own a home in Lebanon, and since 2001 only traveled to Lebanon one time ... to see his ill father, who is 80 and suffers from severe heart and liver disease," Andreoff said in a court filing. He said his client "has no foreign bank accounts or liquid assets other than those in Michigan which were seized by the government" on last week.

Fata owns Michigan Hematology Oncology, which has offices in Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy and Oak Park. The government says the clinics billed $35 million to Medicare over two years.

Fata made about $24.3 million in drug infusion billings directly to Medicare, "more than any hematologist/oncologist in the state of Michigan during that time period," FBI agent Brian Fairweather wrote in the criminal complaint.

The criminal complaint quotes co-workers and former employees as saying dozens of people passed through the office each day, although Dr. Farid Fata spent less than five minutes with each patient and hired doctors who may not have been properly licensed to practice medicine.

In one case, a patient fell and hit his head at Fata's clinic but was told he needed chemotherapy before he could be taken to a hospital, according to the FBI. The man later died from the head injury. His name was not disclosed.


Associated Press reported Ed White contributed to this story.

Published: Mon, Aug 12, 2013