DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – He’s accused of giving unnecessary treatments for cancer — but a local doctor won’t stay behind bars ahead of his trial.
Federal prosecutors say Dr. Farid Fata, owner of Michigan Hematology Oncology, could be kicked out of the country if convicted of fraud.
The government made the disclosure in a court filing Thursday as it tried, unsuccessfully, to convince a judge to keep Fata in jail without bond.
U.S. District Court Magistrate David Graham refused to detain Fata, even after government attorneys argued ties to his native Lebanon and access to millions of dollars make him a flight risk.
Prosecutors are appealing the decision.
Fata 48, was ordered to surrender his passport and cease treating patients. He will be monitored with an electronic tether and will be confined to his home.
Bond was set at $170,000.
Defense attorney Christopher Andreoff said Fata is a U.S. citizen and won’t flee the country.
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 Tuesday.
The government said the oncologist deliberately misdiagnosed patients with cancer and ordered chemotherapy for others who didn’t need it, with the goal to bill Medicare for millions of dollars. [View a copy of the complaint].
Before Graham announced his decision on Thursday, he heard from family members of patients treated by the cancer specialist.
Among them was Matthew Feemes.
“He was a very determined person to administer the chemotherapy,” Feemes told reporters. “He was a one track mind and did not respond well to questions or being challenged in his diagnosis.”
Feemes, whose mother had been undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer, believes the court erred in releasing Fata.
Fata became a naturalized citizen in 2009. The government says he could lose that status and be deported if he’s convicted, especially if investigators learn that crimes were committed before 2009.
Andreoff said the The Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers remain open.
Prosecutors are still on the lookout for more victims in this case. Patients who have questions concerning their medical records and/or information regarding this investigation and prosecution are urged to call the U.S. Attorney’s Office Information Line at 888-702-0553.
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