Doctor Lived “Lavish” Lifestyle from Unnecessary Treatments
Texan doctor Jorge Zamora-Quezada, 61, had a six-seat Eclipse 500 business jet that cost him $50 million. He owned a 2017 Maserati Granturismo Coupe and multiple homes and properties, and dressed in garments “from high-end retailers such as Louis Vuitton,” a Justice Department statement said. By all accounts, Zamora-Quezada lived what the Department referred to as a “lavish” lifestyle with the income he received from his patients’ chemotherapy treatments.
However, the doctor’s financial status wasn’t attained legally, according to the Department, which has alleged the physician was able to afford these high-priced luxury items by performing unnecessary procedures and prescribing costly medication to, potentially, thousands of patients, including children and the elderly. Investigators have said that he and his co-conspirators took part in a $240 million health-care fraud scheme and international money-laundering operation funded by excessive and unwarranted medical procedures.
“His patients trusted him and presumed his integrity; in return, he allegedly engaged in a scheme of false diagnoses and bogus courses of treatment…with no regard for patient well-being,” C.J. Porter, a special agent with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, said.
Zamora-Quezada is currently in custody with his court date set for July 2, according to Justice Department spokesperson Nicole Navas Oxman. The unsealed seven-count indictment indicates Zamora-Quezada owned medical practices in Brownsville, Edinberg, and San Antonio and primarily practiced rheumatology. Multiple shell organizations were also built to hide the flow of money stemming from excessive and fraudulent treatments.
Zamora-Quezada focused on treating rheumatoid arthritis, which causes the immune system to mistakenly attack tissue and can be treated with various medications and chemotherapy drugs. The indictment includes notes on more than a dozen people but also states the doctor stashed thousands of medical records in a dilapidated barn and indicates Zamora-Quezada and his co-conspirators created false medical records to obstruct the investigation.
In total, Zamora-Quezada provided treatments to more than 1,500 patients in 2015 alone and was paid $1,672 per patient. This is well above the state’s average per patient pay out.
Nora Rodriguez, a patient of Zamora-Quezada, claimed the doctor yelled and threw her out of his office after she questioned his treatment. “He kept getting upset when I was asking him why I was feeling worse and not getting better,” she said. Reviews of the doctor’s practices say that he had no time for returning patients, only new ones. Zamora-Quezada is also accused of falsifying records to show that his patients were having more pain than they described, and concealing documents from other doctors sought by his patients for a second opinion.
The physician’s plane and Maserati have been seized along with his properties in Texas, California, and Colorado, which investigators alleged he would rent out so that it appeared he was earning a legitimate income. Two penthouses in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico were also seized.
In 2006, the Texas Medical Board accused Zamora-Quezada of prescribing a drug “inconsistent with public health and welfare” and of “billing for treatment that was improper, unreasonable, or medically or clinically unnecessary.” Zamora-Quezada later settled for a public reprimand, monitoring by other doctors, and a $30,000 fine.