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Texas Doc Allegedly Built 'Lavish' Life on Dubious Diagnoses, Unneeded Chemo

By Steven Porter  
   May 14, 2018

The purported specialist in rheumatology was indicted in a $240 million healthcare fraud.

A twin-engine jet, blue Maserati coupe, and several high-end homes are among the belongings prosecutors aim to force a Texas doctor to forfeit for allegedly perpetrating a $240 million healthcare fraud.

Jorge Zamora-Quezada, 61, appeared in court Monday to face a seven-count indictment. He's accused of making dubious diagnoses and administering unneeded chemotherapy as part of a conspiracy to rake in millions of dollars in reimbursements to support a lifestyle the Department of Justice described as "lavish and opulent."

The indictment includes little information about the victims in this case, but Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan said in a statement that Zamora-Quezada's alleged conduct "jeopardized the health and wellbeing of innocent children, elderly, and disabled victims."

Christopher Combs, the FBI's special agent in charge, said recovering Zamora-Quezada's ill-gotten gains is of secondary importance.

"This investigation highlights an even greater concern presented by healthcare fraud than the significant financial losses—the physical and emotional harm suffered by the patients and their families," Combs said in the statement.

  • The plot: Prosecutors allege that Zamora-Quezada—the only defendant in this case—conspired with others to falsely diagnose vulnerable patients in San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley, and elsewhere. They then allegedly administered unneeded drugs and repetitive tests to increase revenue.
     
  • The proceeds: The co-conspirators allegedly bought private jets, luxury cars, designer clothing, and high-end real estate in the U.S. and Mexico. They are accused of laundering their money through real estate deals, including for a condo in Aspen, Colorado; a condo in Punta Mita, Mexico; two penthouses in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and a number of commercial and residential properties in Texas.
     
  • The cover-up: The DOJ alleges that Zamora-Quezada and his alleged partners in crime created fake patient records and concealed medical information from Medicare authorities "by stashing them in an unsecured and dilapidated barn located in the Rio Grande Valley" to obstruct investigations into their conduct.
     
  • The timeline: The fraud began approximately in 2000 and continued through the filing of the sealed indictment, court records state.

Zamora-Quezada, who owned medical practices in Brownsville, Edinburg, and San Antonio, was a licensed physician who purported to specialize in rheumatology, according to the indictment.

A detention hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Steven Porter is editor at HealthLeaders.


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