Doctor sentenced on health care fraud, murder for dishing out excessive amounts of pain pills.
Rezik Saqer, 66, of Houston, Texas, a physician and anesthesiologist registered to practice at two pain centers, Texas Pain Solutions and Integra Medical Clinic, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in fraudulently billing health care programs for at least $5 million dollars and running a ‘pill mill’; resulting in multiple patient deaths. Saqer pleaded guilty on July 3, 2019, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas.
From January 2010 through September 2015, court records show Saqer and his colleagues overbooked patient appointments in order to maximize billings. Unlicensed co-conspirators commonly conducted follow-up appointments. Despite this, Saqer billed using higher reimbursement codes. According to evidence presented at the case, Saqer’s scheme also involved coaxing vulnerable patients to his pill mill clinics by prescribing powerful opioids. He would then force them to undergo tests and procedure that were medically unnecessary. This game led to numerous deaths, including the death of a young family in an auto accident.
The doctor allegedly prescribed four bottles of Valium and oxycodone to Ronald Cooper who took them and crashed his vehicle on September 20, 2015 killing Roland Sedlmeier, 49, Melinda Sedlmeier, 42, Harley Sedlmeier, 6, and Sofie Sedlmeier, 4, all of whom were on their way home from church. In May 2017, Cooper was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to 80 years in prison. Saqer was subsequently charged with one count of engaging in organized criminal activity and six counts of murder.
Relatives of the Sedlmeiers said it seemed Sofie had foreshadowed the events during Sunday school the morning of the crash. “Sofie was listening to the Sunday school teacher teach the lesson about creation,” said Evie Zamundio, Melinda’s sister. “Sofie was taking it all in, and the teacher said, ‘the same God that created you will one day come back and take you home to be in heaven.’ Sofie shouted in front of the kids, ‘well, what’s he waiting for?’ Little did she know that afternoon she would be walking through the gates with The Lord.”
“As a Christian, I’m asked to forgive,” Marjorie Nantz, Melinda’s mother, said at the sentencing. “I will grow stronger, and I forgive you. I understand that this does not mean a man should not be held accountable. Even God said forgiveness is free. It’s for our acceptance. We do sin. But it wasn’t at a price. Even God sent his son Jesus to die.”
After Morntgomery’s family testified on his behalf, Chief Prosecutor Tyler Dunman said, “I’ve never seen anything like it. Whatever person Mr. Cooper was back in 2007, that’s not the person we’re dealing with today. That’s not the one we had with us in 2015 when this crash was committed. He has such a callous regard for life.”
Montgomery Co D.A. Bret Ligon said after the drugs were found in the driver’s system, “It’s a pill mill case. We’ve arrested a doctor who’s pedaling poison to people here to people here in Montgomery county, not only this county but other counties.”