Doctor, wife plead not guilty to new charges in healthcare fraud case
McALLEN — A doctor and his wife pleaded not guilty to new federal charges related to a healthcare fraud case.
Dr. Jorge Zamora-Quezada, a local rheumatologist, and his wife Meisy Angelica Zamora appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker Tuesday morning in connection with new federal charges levied against them by the federal government.
In a superseding indictment unsealed last week, the doctor, who currently faces multiple healthcare fraud charges, now faces two new charges; money laundering, and tampering with witnesses, according to the court records.
The new charges allege that the doctor and his wife, along with two employees, attempted to dupe the grand jury by providing fraudulent medical records as part of a subpoena from the federal grand jury, and that as part of their scheme to defraud the government, hid funds in real estate and other properties with the intention of evading federal authorities, court records show.
The 61-year-old Mission native, Zamora-Quezada, has been in federal custody on healthcare fraud charges since his arrest in early May.
Zamora-Quezada’s wife, Meisy Zamora, who federal agents arrested on mail fraud charges in connection with her husband’s case after she appeared for one of his court appearances on July 27, now faces money laundering and tampering with witnesses charges as part of the superseding indictment, court records show.
The court has since declined her motion for a bond release, citing her ties to Mexico as a concern to the court.
Federal agents arrested the doctor’s wife after searching for her for two weeks — finally arresting her when she appeared for her husband’s July 27 court hearing.
Meisy Zamora, along with her attorney Christopher Sully, stood before Hacker, waived the reading of the indictment against her and pleaded not guilty to the two new charges.
Before being sent back into custody, she asked, and was granted a brief moment to make eye contact with her husband, who was led into the courtroom after she pleaded not guilty, and before he was to make his plea. She had not seen him since before her arrest at the federal courthouse.
Government prosecutors say that for nearly two decades, beginning in 2000, the doctor’s wife, who was a supervisor at her husband’s practice — the Center for Arthritis & Osteoporosis in Edinburg — participated in an alleged scheme to provide unnecessary treatment to patients in order to defraud health insurers.
A manager working at the practice told investigators that Meisy Zamora was actively involved in supervising employees who raised complaints with her about having to meet quotas for medical procedures due to fear of raising them with her husband, Zamora-Quezada, according to the complaint.
Also named in the new indictment were two of the doctor’s employees, Estella Santos Natera, 45, a billings supervisor, and Felix Rodolfo Ramos, 42, both of Edinburg, who helped manage the doctor’s finances.
They are accused of helping the doctor and his wife in the health care fraud scheme.
Zamora-Quezada, Meisy Zamora and Santos Natera, according to allegations in court records, “knowingly and willfully, did combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and with others, known and unknown to the grand jury, to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, by causing false and fictitious records to be provided to the federal grand jury in response to one or more federal grand jury subpoenas.”
The government accuses the doctor of giving false diagnosis to patients in order to file those claims, according to the complaint.
Santos Natera allegedly helped the couple in executing and attempting to execute a scheme to defraud health insurers by submitting false claims by helping them falsify patient records to appear that certain procedures were medically necessary and that certain procedures had been performed. It is also alleged that she helped them obstruct investigations by creating false records to be provided to the grand jury.
The indictment also states that Zamora-Quezada and his wife directed staff to increase the number of patient visits and the number of medical procedures that were performed on patients “in order to generate profits and pay the salaries of employees and co-conspirators.”
The money made from the scheme, according to the government, was used to enrich them and Ramos, the second employee in the indictment, who is accused of assisting the couple in concealing the source of those funds.
Ramos allegedly conducted financial transactions knowing they were meant to conceal the source of the funds and helped transfer money to Mexico by funneling money to other bank accounts, according to the indictment.
He also allegedly assisted in concealing the origin of the funds by investing in commercial and residential real estate, including two penthouse apartments in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and a timeshare in Punta Mita, Mexico, as well as condos in Aspen, Colorado, and San Diego. Ramos is alleged to have assisted in managing those properties.
Both Santos Natera and Ramos pleaded not guilty to the charges against them last week, and both were each subsequently granted a $100,000 bond, court records show.
Zamora-Quezada and his wife’s trial are scheduled for Oct. 2, according to court records.