Dr. Farid Fata bullied and berated his patients, officials say

By Elaine Aradillas
Updated July 01, 2015 01:30 PM
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Credit: Mike Gullon/Phoenix Photographic

Patricia Hester was at work when a co-worker spotted her oncologist on the news. Dr. Farid Fata, a renowned Michigan doctor specializing in cancer, was arrested for fraud.

“I was hysterical. I couldn’t control myself, I was shaking so bad,” recalls Hester, 61. “I was so upset.”

In the weeks following his arrest, Hester – whom Fata had diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer – discovered her diagnosis was false. “It was all a lie,” she says.

In September, Fata pleaded guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to receive kickbacks and two counts of money laundering in a $35 million scheme to bilk the government into paying for excessive or unnecessary cancer treatments. He is expected to appear in front of a federal judge on July 6 to face sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade stated in court documents that she plans to seek a life sentence or the maximum 175 years.

“At times, Fata bullied, berated and browbeat patients who dared to question his treatment, telling them they risked death without him or in the case of a patient who could not afford copays, ‘It’s your life or your money,’ ” according to the 102-page document. “Fata’s crimes demand a sentence commensurate with the momentous suffering he inflicted.”

Hester plans to attend his sentencing. She says she feels betrayed by Fata and looks forward to having closure. “It didn’t just keep me hostage, but my whole family,” she says. “It’s over three years of my life that I will never get back.”

For more about the story of Dr. Farid Fata, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE magazine on newsstands Friday.

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