Allegedly administered chemotherapy based on false diagnosis
Conspiracy included international money laundering scheme
A south Texas doctor charged with conspiracies could go to prison and stands to lose his private jet, Maserati and multiple residential and commercial properties in the United States and Mexico for massive health care fraud. On Tuesday, the doctor pleaded not guilty to the charges and was then ordered held without bond by U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby in McAllen, Texas.
The Department of Justice said 61-year old Jorge Zamora-Quezada, a medical doctor treating patients in San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere, was charged Monday with $240 million in the fraud and an international money laundering scheme. he received his medical degree from Universidad de Guadalajara Faculty of Medicine and had been in practice for over 20 years.
In many cases, the doctor allegedly administered unnecessary chemotherapy and other toxic medications to patients based on false diagnosis. He was charged in a seven-count indictment filed in the Southern District of Texas, including one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, five counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“Jorge Zamora-Quezada allegedly orchestrated a massive fraud scheme that jeopardized the health and wellbeing of innocent children, elderly, and disabled victims,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan. The allegations including fraudulent care to “some of the most vulnerable victims imaginable — are almost beyond comprehension.”
Charges indicate the group of conspirators “flew in Zamora-Quezada’s million-dollar private jet or drove in his Maserati, which were both emblazoned with his initials, ‘ZQ,’ between his offices in the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio in order to perpetuate the fraud.”
Doctor had long history of suspicious activities
In 2004, he was charged with sexual harassment claims from four female employees. His office manager said he would call her repeatedly to ask what color underwear she was wearing and during meetings in his office, he would sometimes rub her thighs and knees. Despite Alaniz’s repeated complaints to the office manager, Zamora’s behavior continued. On one occasion, when Alaniz went into his office, Zamora grabbed her around the waist and kissed her on the lips. Later he told her that there were some problems with her performance but that she could keep her job if she had a sexual relationship with him.
During a meeting with his Human Resources manager, he asked her to sit on his lap. When she refused, he explained she could make more money if she engaged in a sexual relationship with him.
In 2009, the Texas Medical Board settled with Zamora-Quezada requiring him to agree to a public reprimand, have his practice monitored by an outside physician for two years and was fined $30,000. This was a result of the medical board accusing him of ordering a series of “clinically unnecessary and excessive” tests for a patient in 2006. He was also accused of prescribing a drug “inconsistent with public health and welfare” and of “billing for treatment that was improper, unreasonable, or medically or clinically unnecessary.”
Records also show the doctor received money from pharmaceutical companies such as $42,460 from Eli Lilly and 1,000 from Pfizer in the past.
Proceeds from his recent conspiracy was used to “purchase private jets, luxury vehicles, clothing from high-end retailers such as Louis Vuitton, and exclusive real estate located throughout the United States and Mexico. He and his co-conspirators allegedly obstructed investigations by causing the creation of false and fictitious patient records, and concealed thousands of medical records from Medicare by stashing them in an unsecured and dilapidated barn located in the Rio Grande Valley.”
Since 2000, the indictment charges Zamora-Quezada and his co-conspirators of falsely diagnosing vulnerable patients “with various degenerative diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. He and his co-conspirators then administered chemotherapy and other toxic medications to the patients based on that false diagnosis. In addition to falsely diagnosing patients, Zamora-Quezada and his co-conspirators allegedly conducted a battery of fraudulent, repetitive, and excessive medical procedures on patients in order to increase revenue and fund Zamora-Quezada’s lavish and opulent lifestyle.”
“His patients trusted him and presumed his integrity; in return he allegedly engaged in a scheme of false diagnoses and bogus courses of treatment, and doled out prescriptions for unnecessary and harmful medications, all for his personal financial gain and with no regard for patient well-being,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General Special Agent C. J. Porter. Noting they “will always pursue criminals masquerading as legitimate physicians, weed them out, and seek the harshest possible punishment, particularly when patient harm is a factor.”
The FBI is seeking other patients who were in the doctor’s care between January 2000 and May 2018 to call the hotline at 1-833-432-4873, Option 8, or email ZamoraPatient@fbi.gov. The FBI is legally mandated to identify victims of federal crimes that it investigates and provide these victims with information, assistance services and resources.
According to a Department Justice release, the group “laundered the proceeds of their fraud scheme by dissipating, transforming and concealing the source and location of the fraud proceeds by investing such proceeds in commercial and residential real estate in the United States and Mexico. Among other properties, he and his co-conspirators acquired two penthouses in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; a condominium in Aspen, Colorado; a condominium in Punta Mita, Mexico; and multiple homes and commercial properties located throughout Texas. He then created the false appearance of legitimate wealth and income by renting the various commercial and residential properties that he acquired to individuals and entities. Zamora-Quezada and his co-conspirators allegedly laundered the proceeds through a casa de cambio, or money exchange house, to various accounts maintained by financial institutions in Mexico.”