Telling stories of deep anguish, patients and their relatives described Tuesday how a Detroit-area cancer doctor wrecked their lives through excessive treatments and intentional misdiagnoses while he collected millions of dollars from insurers.
A federal judge set aside hours to hear from victims of Dr. Farid Fata, who faces sentencing this week for fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. Some entered court with canes. Others wore elastic sleeves on their wrists, their joints weakened by years of unnecessary chemotherapy. They said they were betrayed by a soft-spoken doctor who won their trust but left them broke and devastated.
"Ten minutes just isn't enough time" to speak, said Laura Stedtfeld, who blames Fata for her father's death.
"Farid Fata, I hate you," she said, her voice rising as she turned toward the doctor seated 10 feet away. "You are repulsive. You disgust me. You are a monster. ... Clearly you're a coward because you can't even look at me now. You poisoned, tortured and murdered my dad."
Fata, 50, looked away, staring at the edge of the defense table, as two dozen people took turns speaking in court, just a fraction of the 553 victims identified by the government. A box of tissues and small bottles of water were available for anyone who needed to pause.
Prosecutors want Fata to be sentenced to 175 years in prison, while the Oakland County doctor is asking for no more than 25 years. Fata's sentence likely will be ordered Thursday or Friday after U.S. District Judge Paul Borman hears from experts.
But Tuesday was reserved for patients or relatives from all walks of life: a mechanic, a tool-and-die worker, even a doctor like Fata. Some of his patients didn't even have cancer but were treated for it.
"Even though I am not dead, I am a shadow of my former self. ... I have days when I cannot stand," said Maggie Dorsey, who can't comb her daughter's hair because of painful joints. "I trusted him. He trusted my insurance and my co-payments."