Bond again denied for doctor
McALLEN — Dr. Jorge Zamora-Quezada was again denied bond Thursday, making it at least the third time in which a federal judge has ordered the indicted physician to be held pending trial.
Zamora-Quezada, who has been held without bond since his May arrest on charges of healthcare fraud, was however granted more access to resources during a hearing Thursday.
While held at the East Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa, the doctor has not had access to files necessary to prepare for trial, Tomas Tijerina, one of the attorneys defending him in the case, argued before the judge on Thursday.
The problem, Tijerina said, was that they were not being allowed to bring a laptop into the detention facility in order to review files.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa said he had been unaware of those restrictions and said he would sign an order to ensure Zamora-Quezada had access to the necessary documents and said he would speak to warden personally if needed. However, the order requesting he be released was flatly denied.
The continued detention Zamora-Quezada, 61, was ordered due to the belief that other conditions would be insufficient to ensure his appearance in court because of his ties to Mexico.
Attorneys for Zamora-Quezada have filed several other motions including one requesting that his funds be released which the judge will hear next week.
Additionally, attorneys for the doctor requested an extension of time which Hinojosa granted, pushing back the final pre-trial hearing to Nov. 1. That will allow the court more time to consider the other motions that were filed, Hinojosa said, but also allow Zamora-Quezada’s three other co-defendants to have their motions heard as well.
Those other co-defendants include his wife, Meisy Zamora, who has also been denied bond release because of her ties to Mexico.
Zamora was a supervisor at her husband’s practice — the Center for Arthritis & Osteoporosis in Edinburg — where she allegedly participated in a 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.
However, a superseding indictment unsealed last month brought new charges against the couple including charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice.
The new indictment also named two employees of his medical practice, Estella Santos Natera, 45, a billing supervisor, and Felix Rodolfo Ramos, 42, who helped manage the doctor’s finances.
Santos Natera is accused of helping 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 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.
Both Santos Natera and Ramos pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and were each subsequently granted a $100,000 bond, court records show.
Zamora, the doctor’s wife, is scheduled to appear in court again on Friday.