Hey, you know how you've always thought that people are basically irredeemably terrible? You were right! Congrats. Here's another story that basically just proves how right you were. Sweet, sweet victory.
It turns out, you can't even trust you doctor in the category of "people who don't suck." Great. We'll just stay at home and take some Ibuprofen, or something.
And by the good doctor we're being really sarcastic. Because that's sort of what we do. This is Farid Fata, an oncologist who previously operated out of Michigan. And we say previously because he's a really, really bad doctor.
Farid Fata has been handing out cancer diagnoses to people since 2009. Which is a difficult job, but seems pretty normal, considering he's an oncologist. What's not really normal about the whole scenario is that most of the people that he diagnosed with cancer didn't actually have cancer at all.
Fata handed down the life-changing news to at least 553 people. That's 553 people who thought they had a life-threatening illness, which not only affected them, but their loved ones as well. "His actions did not just affect the individuals who received the unnecessary chemotherapy. They affected spouses, children and grandchildren. They interrupted the lives of thousands," said Donna McKenzie, who represented 21 of the 43 claimants in the case against Fata.
It was not until 2014 that Fata was finally caught in the act of fraud. By that time, he had already been giving out incorrect diagnoses for five years. His victims named him "Dr. Death," as they should. In 2014, he was pleading guilty to thirteen counts of health care fraud, two counts of laundering money, and one count of conspiracy to receive or pay for kickbacks on the money.
Fata has already been convicted of Medicare fraud. He is sentenced to 45 years in prison. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade weighed in on the matter and said that it was "the most serious fraud case in the history of the country."
The U.S. attorney's office has no concrete number of how many patients died from the treatment that Fata gave them. The court documents can only allege that he put his patients at the risk of death, but not that he killed anyone. Many patients who were under his care, or lack there-of, said he might as well have.
Sydney Zaremba's mother died under Fata's treatment in 2011. Her mother was 87-years-old, and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The disease is treatable, and prosecutors have concluded that the woman was over-treated. "He killed my mom,” Zaremba said. “She had a very treatable disease. By the time he got done with her, she was taking 16 meds.”
"[T]here’s no amount of money that can replace what we lost," Zaremba added. She is seeking $15,000 to cover the cost of the funeral expenses. That small sum doesn't come close to repairing the damages he created.
Teddy Howard, 56, was also a victim of Fata, and said that the man has destroyed his life. Howard was diagnosed by Fata as having a rare blood disorder. Howard was given 44 chemotherapy treatments to supposedly fight the disorder. What Howard didn't know was that he actually never had the disorder at all.
Howard underwent eighteen months of chemotherapy for a disorder he did not actually have. "I went from being healthy and put on chemo to the condition I’m in now—post-liver transplant and fighting for my life,” Howard said. Not only did he have a liver transplant, he also plans to have surgery to replace all of his teeth, which rotted from the treatment.
The list of victims grows, and only continues to become more horrific. Ellen Piligian's father passed away in 2012, mistreated by Fata, who gave him powerful chemotherapy and toxic drugs. He had stage 4 cancer, but Piligian says Fata acted as a fearmonger. "My dad could have had much better life quality those last couple of years,” she said.
Piligian said she had to make it through "voicemail hell" trying to track down the proof of payment from health insurance providers. This is how victims had to make claims, and it was not a simple process. Some victims had difficulty making the claims at all. Fata says he believes people were targeting him for political reasons - he received his degree in Lebanon.
The victims mentioned above were just a few of hundreds who suffered at the hands of Fata, but he's not owning up to everything he's done. Fata says he is working on a book called Convicted Out of Thin Air: The True Story of Dr. Farid Fata, which is certain to be a gripping read full of facts.
“I will never trust another doctor again as long as I live,” Howard said. “I trusted this doctor with my life and he failed me.”
In a January court hearing, Fata is pleading innocence. In 2014 when he pleaded guilty, he did so under duress. Now he is looking to gain his freedom from prison through habeas corpus, to see if the sentence he was placed under is indeed lawful. Needless to say, we're not really rooting for him. "I am not fighting for my innocence," said Fata.