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July 7, 2015

You be the judge: what federal sentence for evil cancer doctor?

Download (3)A few weeks ago, I was discussing with my kids whether they thought some humans were innately evil.  In any such discussion, it might make sense to bring up the story of the Michigan oncologist who pleaded guilty to mistreating cancer patients and bilking the government through false Medicare claims.  The doctor's federal sentencing began this week, and this AP story provides an overview of the proceedings and basic information to enable any would-be judges to suggest sentences for the doc in the comments:

Patients of a Detroit-area doctor received "stunning" doses of a powerful, expensive drug that exposed them to life-threatening infections, an expert testified Monday as a judge heard details about a cancer specialist who fleeced insurance companies and harmed hundreds of people.

Dr. Farid Fata is headed to prison for fraud and other crimes. But U.S. District Judge Paul Borman first is hearing from experts and former patients about the extent of his scheme to reap millions of dollars from Medicare and other health programs.

Nearly three dozen ex-patients and family members, many dressed in black, chartered a bus to attend the hearing, which could last days. Some will testify Tuesday."This is a small fraction of the people this guy has hurt," said Terry Spurlock, 52, of Holly, who had three more years of treatments after a tumor on his neck disappeared. "He gave me so much treatment, it stopped my immune system."

Fata, 50, pleaded guilty last fall to fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. The government is seeking a 175-year prison sentence, while the Oakland County man is asking for no more than 25 years.

The government said 553 people have been identified as victims, along with four insurance companies. There were more than 9,000 unnecessary infusions or injections. "There is an aggressive approach to treating cancer. This was beyond. This was over the top," said Dr. Dan Longo, a Harvard medical professor and deputy editor at the New England Journal of Medicine, who testified Monday as a $400-an-hour expert for prosecutors after examining 25 patient files, a tiny portion of Fata's practice.

Longo was asked about patients who were given a drug called Rituximab, which can weaken the immune system if overused. It is typically given eight times for aggressive lymphoma, but one patient got it 94 times. Another got it 76 times.... Later, he told the judge that "all the files I looked at had problems, but I would not say all the treatment was inappropriate."

It was the first time that many former patients had seen Fata in months, if not years. He has been in custody since his 2013 arrest. He wore a white dress shirt and dark suit in court.

"I wanted to knock that smirk off his face," said Geraldine Parkin, 54, of Davison, who[se] husband, Tim, has survived non-Hodgkin lymphoma but has other chronic problems because of excessive treatments. "He has a lot of anger," Parkin said.

July 7, 2015 at 08:05 AM | Permalink

Comments

I realize it's just a news article, but I'm curious about the significance of the Harvard expert witness's hourly rate. Usually that's journalistic shorthand for litigation whore, but hard to see its relevance here.

Anyway, I'm less interested in coming up with my own sentence for this guy than in hearing what your kids have to say about the nature of evil. Can you provide any details? (Names redacted, of course.)

Posted by: Ain't Nick | Jul 7, 2015 10:10:32 AM

Fifty years.

Despite the offenses of conviction, this defendant committed assaults - person crimes - against his patients. He apparently did it for a profit motive. He was in a position of trust/confidence/superiority/authority. The amount of economic loss is undoubtedly enormous. The offense involved a high degree of planning/sophistication and continued for a lengthy period of time. The victims were particularly vulnerable. I'm not aware of any mitigation of any significance when weighed against all those aggravating factors.

With fifty years, if he's extraordinarily lucky with his health, he will be released before he dies. As you've pointed out before, anything significantly over that number (for someone this age) becomes an absurdity. Anything under that number, however, would very much depreciate the seriousness of the crime and fail to promote respect for the law.

Posted by: David L. | Jul 7, 2015 10:59:31 AM

Doug:

If you think your kids are old enough I encourage them to watch The Third Man.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041959/

Though it's stylized as a detective movie it's core message is a discussion of the issue you raise about inherent evil. The scene on the Ferris Wheel near the end of the movie is a classic movie moment.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 7, 2015 11:42:10 AM

Is there pure evil in people? You bet.

You have a guy who can only enjoy sex if his little girl victim's throat is cut. And he does that to a lot of the 100,000 unresolved missing persons we have a year. Bruce Cunningham could come to his defense, and find a loophole that looses him so that he can carve a notch in his lawyer belt. These notches will translate into $million fees from drug dealers who get in trouble when he goes into private practice.

Ask any child over 7 if that is evil.

I would not call him evil, but dangerous, and he should be killed at the earliest age possible. Bruce, I would shun and boycott. I understand he is doing his government assigned job.

But here is pure evil, with no excuse, no mitigation.

The 25,000 elite lawyers running our government who protect this killer to generate lawyer government make work jobs. They are not even human with evil, but reptiles. They need to be arrested, given an hour's fair trial, and immediately executed.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 7, 2015 12:27:22 PM

As to an evil doctor. No one here is noting that the patients bitching and moaning are alive. "It was the first time that many former patients had seen Fata in months, if not years." Maybe one of them should have thanked the doctor for those "years."

I have discussed the dose response curve which likely applies applies to all remedies. Give too little, the remedy does not work. Give too much, it is toxic. All remedies, including legal one should be tested in a small jurisdiction to work out the dose response curve. I have no idea what this doctor gave and whether his practice could be supported by minority view. His confession is meaningless, since it was likely coerced by stacking the charges. I do know one thing. The prosecution expert: Harvard, Massachusetts, New England Journal of Medicine, forget the $400, that is cheap, but otherwise: dismissed. He should have been disqualified. The defendant has seen 10 times more patients, is likely more intelligent, and can be defended as aggressive but caring. The defendant is more senior to the Harvard professor and should be judged by a street, working cancer doctor, not by a supercilious, by the book, Harvard twit.

One also has to wonder about the health system. The doctor is said to have been doing this practice for years. Did he give all doses himself. If a nurse or technician gave the doses, why was there no protest, no reporting, no internal review? Then, today, thanks to Obama's Commie Care, it is nearly impossible to dispense ordinary doses of $4 generic medication, without spending hours on prior authorizations. How did he dispense high doses of expensive cancer medication and get insurance funding for them?

Then, naturally, no one went after the racially biased prosecutor, and demanded total e-discovery of the racist prosecutor. Fata sounds Arabic to me. The prosecution is racially motivated. Put the racist prosecutor on the stand and demand to know how many doctors he has prosecuted named Dr. Smith. Always play the race and all other cards. If the prosecutor is female, she is a vile male hating feminist.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 7, 2015 1:19:00 PM

"innately evil"

How is this defined? Vague!

The "fraud, money laundering and conspiracy" is serious but the David L. is correct. The most serious issue here are the physical harms to hundreds for what on the face of it appears to be greed. One article (rightly) spoke of "horrific torture" -- chemo is torturous even when it is necessary. Unnecessary chemo for money is worse. The violation of the special trust applied to a doctor makes this worse.

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/cancer/farid-fata-doctor-who-gave-chemo-healthy-patients-faces-sentencing-n385161T

Particularly given the rate given to those who did less wrong, I don't want him a free man (and even then under some sort of parole) before his 80s at least. Hopefully, he has some money left to provide some fiscal satisfaction as well.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 7, 2015 4:59:54 PM

The good dr should be given a 12 ga vasectomy.

Then ask him if we took it to far.

I will personally warrent the results, 100%, else it will be perfotmed free.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Jul 7, 2015 7:43:50 PM

I'm pleased to see that I got this just about right: https://www.yahoo.com/health/dr-farid-fata-sentenced-to-45-years-in-prison-as-123666153837.html

Posted by: David L. | Jul 10, 2015 1:12:43 PM

The spirit of Dr. Josef Mengele lives on in Michigan , albeit in apparently only one ♂ •

I am more concerned with the lying to and cheating on his patient victims , than his skimming of mega$ from the government •

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady in Oregon | Jul 11, 2015 11:49:57 AM

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