DETROIT (AP) — Three people praised the care of a Detroit-area cancer doctor Thursday as a judge moved closer to sending him to prison for a scheme to collect millions of dollars through needless treatments.
Lawyers for Dr. Farid Fata summoned their own witnesses after three days of unflattering testimony from experts and many patients who unwittingly went through grueling but unnecessary treatments. Some didn't have cancer.
U.S. District Judge Paul Borman said he will sentence Fata on Friday. Guidelines, which are not mandatory, call for a prison sentence somewhere from 30 years to life. The judge will have much discretion, however.
Borman pegged the financial loss to Medicare and other insurers at $17 million, although prosecutors argued it was higher based on out-of-pocket costs absorbed by the more than 500 victims.
The fraud "hasn't happened on a scale like this before anywhere," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Resnick Cohen, who called Fata's actions "heinous and sadistically cruel."
But the doctor has supporters. Amanda Iodice, who had breast cancer, said she told Fata that she didn't want many treatments because she's in her 80s. She made brief remarks aimed at softening his image.
"He was extremely kind and comforting. ... He exerted no pressure on me to continue," Iodice told the judge.
Evette Aubrey, 84, knows Fata from church. She said he helped her with leg problems.
"God bless him. He's a good man," Aubrey said.
Prosecutors are seeking 175 years in prison, while Fata, of course, is hoping for much less. He pleaded guilty to fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.
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