A Texas doctor was arrested Monday on charges he led a $240 million health care fraud and money laundering scheme in which he falsely diagnosed patients with degenerative diseases and gave them unneeded chemotherapy and other treatments.
Jorge Zamora-Quezada, 61, operates clinics focused on arthritis and osteoporosis in Brownsville, Edinburg and San Antonio, Texas. He allegedly bilked Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others through a scheme in which he would falsely diagnose patients with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, give them treatments based on those false diagnoses, and conduct a “battery of fraudulent, repetitive and excessive medical procedures” to fund his “lavish and opulent lifestyle” filled with private planes, luxury cars and high-end real estate, according to his May 9 indictment.
To generate profits and pay staff salaries, the doctor allegedly directed office staff to increase the number of medical procedures performed on patients. He allegedly dismissed patients from his medical practices if they questioned him about the fraudulent diagnoses and medical procedures, according to the indictment.
Meanwhile, Zamora-Quezada attempted to hide the scheme from government investigators by creating fake patient records and hiding other medical records “in an unsecured and dilapidated barn” located in the Rio Grande Valley, the indictment says.
According to the indictment, Zamora-Quezada and alleged co-conspirators submitted about $240 million in false claims to the health care benefit programs, and he and his entities were paid about $50 million.
He allegedly used the illicit proceeds to buy a private jet, Maserati, Porsche, and clothes from luxury retailers like Louis Vuitton. He is accused of laundering proceeds from the fraud by buying two penthouses in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and a condominium in Punta Mita, Mexico; a condo in Aspen, Colorado; a condo at the La Costa Resort near San Diego; and several homes and commercial properties in Hidalgo, Cameron and Bexar counties in Texas. He allegedly “created the false appearance of legitimate wealth” by renting out the properties.
He also allegedly laundered proceeds from the scheme through a “casa de cambio,” or money exchange house, in McAllen, Texas, to various accounts maintained by financial institutions in Mexico.