DETROIT - A Lebanese-born cancer doctor accused of intentionally misdiagnosing patients and ordering unnecessary treatments will remain in jail until trial, a judge said Wednesday after prosecutors insisted he might flee to the Middle East.
Dr. Farid Fata, in custody since Aug. 6, wanted the judge to lower his $9 million bond to $500,000 and give him a chance to win release.
"Obviously there is a presumption of innocence ... but the court feels there is a serious risk of flight. The charges are serious," U.S. District Judge Paul Borman said, in denying bond.
Fata, a naturalized U.S. citizen whose native country is Lebanon, is charged with committing fraud to enrich himself through health insurance programs. The government says some patients were repeatedly exposed to powerful drugs despite having no cancer. Fata denies it.
Outside the courthouse, about a dozen people protested his possible release. Signs read, "Without fail Fata will jump bail" and "No bond for death doctor."
The government says Fata has extensive business holdings, including Michigan Hematology-Oncology, a clinic that has received more than $169 million from Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield since 2006.
Defence attorney Christopher Andreoff told the judge that Fata's assets have been seized by the government or are tied up with liens, eliminating any chance that he has enough cash to dash to Lebanon. He proposed Fata be confined to home with an electronic monitor.
But prosecutor Catherine Dick said there's no assurance that Fata, facing years in prison if convicted, would stay in the U.S.
"We can't be sure how much money he has out there," she said.
Borman set a Feb. 4 trial date, but that could change after an update on the case scheduled for December.
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