Patients lash out at cancer doctor in fraud case

By Ed White
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) - Telling stories of deep anguish, patients and their relatives described Tuesday how a Detroit-area cancer doctor wrecked their lives through excessive treatments and intentional misdiagnoses while he collected millions of dollars from insurers.

A judge set aside nearly four hours to hear from victims of Dr. Farid Fata, who faces sentencing this week for fraud and other crimes. Some entered court with canes. Others wore elastic sleeves on their wrists, their joints weakened by years of unnecessary chemotherapy. They said they were betrayed by a soft-spoken doctor who won their trust but left them devastated.

"Ten minutes just isn't enough time" to speak, said Laura Stedtfeld, who blames Fata for her father's death.

"Farid Fata, I hate you," she said, her voice rising as she turned toward the doctor seated 10 feet away. "You are repulsive. You disgust me. You are a monster. ... Clearly you're a coward because you can't even look at me now. You poisoned, tortured and murdered my dad."

Fata, 50, looked away, staring at the edge of the defense table, as two dozen people took turns speaking in court, just a fraction of the 553 victims identified by the government. A box of tissues and small bottles of water were available for anyone who needed to pause. More than 100 people who couldn't get in watched a video feed elsewhere in the courthouse, at times applauding.

Prosecutors want Fata to be sentenced to 175 years in prison, while the Oakland County doctor is asking for no more than 25 years. His sentence likely will be ordered Thursday or Friday after U.S. District Judge Paul Borman hears from experts and a handful of people who are expected to praise Fata's skills.

But Tuesday was reserved for patients or their relatives from all walks of life: a mechanic, a tool-and-die maker, even the daughter of a doctor like Fata. A few, like Robert Sobieray, were treated for cancer but didn't actually have it.

"Look at what's left of my mouth - I have one tooth left," said Sobieray, who attributed his dental woes to 2 ½ years of treatment using a powerful drug that wasn't needed.

Christopher Sneary was referred to Fata because of testicular cancer. It was serious but easily treatable, he said, yet he still was given 40 days of chemotherapy and 37 rounds of radiation all over his body.

Other doctors examined him after Fata's arrest and were "appalled" by the treatments, Sneary said. "They had no idea how I was sitting in their office. ... I will never be the same."

The first to speak, Maggie Dorsey, said she can't comb her daughter's hair because of pain.

"Even though I am not dead, I am a shadow of my former self. ... I trusted him. He trusted my insurance and my co-payments," Dorsey said.

After the courtroom emptied, defense attorney Christopher Andreoff objected to much of the testimony, saying Fata's legal team didn't have time to look at records to confirm the claims.

Andreoff acknowledged the suffering but told the judge that some "information that has been presented to you may have been materially false."

Published: Thu, Jul 09, 2015