McALLEN — Meisy Angelica Zamora, the wife of the local rheumatologist indicted on health care fraud charges, will be held without bond, a federal judge ordered Thursday.
Zamora is accused of participating in a health care fraud scheme that was allegedly perpetrated by her husband, Dr. Jorge Zamora-Quezada.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Juan F. Alanis said he believed it would be easy for Zamora to flee to Mexico and opted to order her detention.
His decision followed testimony from Special Agent Joshua Bley about phone conversations between Za-mora-Quezada and his children that took place when the physician was already in jail.
During one conversation between Zamora-Quezada and his daughter, he asked about his wife’s whereabouts to which his daughter said she had left out of fear of being arrested, according to Bley’s testimony.
In another phone conversation with his son, Victor Zamora, the physician inquired why his wife left. His son replied that she was left to “find the funds.” However, it remained unclear what funds were being dis-cussed.
In a third conversation with another family member, the relative tells Zamora-Quezada he can reach his wife at “Tower 5,” referring to one of their penthouses in Puerto Vallarta.
Her attorney, Christopher Sully, argued that although she had left the country, Zamora returned and had been present at all but one of her husband’s court hearings.
Sully also argued that she had strong ties in the United States, including her family.
The defense attorney also argued that the private jet the Zamoras had owned was sold to one of the doctor’s sons in 2008. However, in questioning FBI forensic accountant Isabel Barberena, the government established the couple continued to use the plane and pay for fuel, maintenance and a pilot.
Zamora’s access to various assets and the judge’s belief that she could easily create a life for herself in Mexico led him to order her detention pending trial.
Alanis’ order to deny Zamora bond places her in the same situation as her husband, who is currently being held without bond at the East Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa.
Zamora-Quezada was arrested in May on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, five counts of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to the criminal complaint against his wife, between 2000 and 2018, she held a supervisory role in his medical practices, and as such, allegedly participated in the scheme to provide unnecessary treatment to patients in order to defraud health insurers.
During Wednesday’s court proceedings, Sully attempted to argue there was not enough probable cause to allow the case to move forward against his client, noting that employees who were interviewed by federal investigators did not say they actually saw Zamora falsify billing records.
However, Alanis ruled against the defense and on Thursday, reiterated he believed she had knowledge of running a medical practice, billing practices, and was likely aware of employees’ complaints.