Feds explain compensation denials for Fata victims

Dr. Farid Fata got rich by giving his patients cancer treatments they didn't need. The court ordered millions to be paid to the families of victims but the feds are denying those claims, for now.

The former doctor was convicted of deliberately deceiving hundreds of people by misdiagnosing them as cancer patients, delivering chemotherapy, performing surgery resulting in death for some and lifelong injuries for others.

The victims and their families were promised money for what happened. But some say they're being turned away.

Acting U.S. Attorney Dan Lemisch is reaching out to victims of Fata.

"Many of these patients and the family members of the patients are feeling overwhelmed," Lemisch said. "He harmed an awful lot of people. We prosecuted him, we got a sentence of 45 years in prison for him and through some really good work of our asset forfeiture people, we were able to seize $11 million in assets that he had secreted away in bank accounts and real estate investments."

RELATED: Dr. Farid Fata's victims say they haven't received restitution

That money is now being paid out to victims. 734 people have submitted claims and a claims adjuster is working to distribute that money as restitution.

The problem with the patients' families is they aren't getting the money when they file a claim.

Robert Sobieray received 2 1/2 years of cancer treatment from Dr. Fata, when he didn't have cancer. He submitted a claim for $65,000 for compensation but has only received $33,000.

"Nobody did anything. What they're trying to do, I think, is not pay us. They want to hold that money for the insurance companies," said Sobieray. "They must be being paid off by the insurance companies or something."

Lemisch says that's not the case at all.

"The claims administrator has granted in whole or in part 74% of the claims that were submitted. The people who received denial letters are understandably frustrated but what I want to emphasize to you and your viewers - is those denials are preliminary only," he said.

Lemisch says in some cases it's a matter of filling out paperwork incorrectly. In some cases it's more complicated.

"People are submitting claims for pain and suffering, people are submitting claims for lost wages. Unfortunately this is not a civil suit," Lemisch said.

So civil action may be necessary but even a civil lawsuit may not be successful. Former federal prosecutor Peter Henning said most doctors' insurance won't cover intentional conduct - which Fata was convicted of committing.

"Every doctor carries malpractice insurance but the typical policy covers negligence, not intentional conduct," Henning said. "We expect doctors to protect their patients, not to give them fake diagnosis."

42 patients had previously settled a medical malpractice lawsuit for $8 million but some haven't been paid.

While many families are still struggling, the U.S. Attorney says restitution in the criminal case is still a work in progress.

"I understand that frustration and I want to say we are doing everything we can to ease that process," Lemisch said.

If you or your family was affected by Fata's actions, the number to file a claim is 1-877-202-3282.

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