US Prosecutor asks judge to raise Dr. Fata bond to $9 million
5:04 AM, Aug 12, 2013
11:35 AM, Aug 13, 2013
(WXYZ) - Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys will duke it out in court again Tuesday over whether Dr. Farid Fata can be released from custody.
Fata is still behind bars.
Meanwhile, the 7 Action News Investigators have also been digging deep into Dr. Fata's charity.
Nine million dollars - that's the bond that federal prosecutors are asking for before Dr. Farid Fata can return to his upscale Oakland Township home.
FBI agents arrested the 48-year-old last week for his involvement in a $35 million Medicare fraud scheme.
Agents raided his home and medical offices after they said he gave unnecessary chemotherapy treatments to cancer patients. Fata is even accused of misdiagnosing patients in their medical charts to increase his billings.
"I have little or no life left," said Robert Rabideau, a former patient of Dr. Fata's.
The 70-year-old is one of many patients who have told the 7 Action News investigators that Dr. Fata gave them chemotherapy – even after other experts told them they did not need the chemo. Rabideau says Fata's treatments made him worse.
"I was pounding the table last year when I stopped the chemo, I said 'God, if anybody is going to this man, get away from him! Get away from him! He doesn't tell the truth'," said Rabideau.
Federal prosecutors and Fata's defense attorney have been battling over his bond ever since the oncologist was locked up last Tuesday.
A judge initially ordered a bond of $170,000 – but the feds are fighting that and now say they have tracked more than $9.4 million in assets that are yet to be seized.
That includes money from assets in Fata's own financial management company's report, other assets that FBI agents have traced but haven't yet seized, and assets available to Dr. Fata's wife, who is the CFO of their medical practice, Michigan Hematology Oncology.
As part of their argument for the $9 million bond, the Assistant U. S. Attorneys also points to assets they have found in charitable accounts -- including Dr. Fata's Swan for Life Foundation.
Swan for Life recently issued a statement on Fata's arrest, that says, in part:
Federal law enforcement officials have concluded that the allegations against the doctor have nothing to do with the Swan for Life Cancer Foundation and there is no investigation of the foundation.
But 7 Action News has learned that statement is not totally accurate. Officials from the U. S. Attorneys office say that it's too early in this investigation to offer any conclusions about the charity.
The charity is clearly trying to distance itself from Dr. Fata.
Their statement also says "The doctor founded the Foundation but had no active role in the Foundation."
But the 7 Investigators have discovered very close ties between Fata and Swan for Life.
The charity's IRS filings show the foundation's address is the same address as the Fata's home. The phone number listed on the tax forms is Dr. Fata's medical office in Rochester Hills. And some of the largest donors to Swan for Life come from companies and charitable trusts the feds say belong to the Fata's
7 Action News has learned, as of Monday, the Executive Director and the staff of charity have been laid off, but the former director Angela Bercume says she was told that the charity was not under investigation. Bercume also says she is absolutely willing to cooperate with the FBI. She says nothing was falsely stated in the media release about the foundation.
Bercume also said the charity had no role in clinical decisions for Dr. Fata's patients. She says they are a stand-alone 501(c)3 which has passed financial audits for the last two years.
Dr. Fata's lawyer, Christopher Andreoff, denies that his client has access to that much money – he's arguing the Fata's really only have access to about $70,000. Andreoff maintains that Fata is not a flight risk.
A federal judge is expected to decide on the bond for Dr. Fata Tuesday morning.