The sentencing phase for Dr. Jorge Zamora Quezada, the Edinburg-based rheumatologist who was convicted of healthcare fraud, is set to get underway in October when a hearing on how much money was lost in the fraud is scheduled to begin.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa scheduled a hearing to calculate loss for Oct. 26 with the likelihood the hearing would last that entire week and perhaps longer, depending on the number of witness that are called to testify.
In January, a jury convicted Zamora Quezada on one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, seven counts of healthcare fraud, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice following a month-long trial during which the presented witnesses and evidence alleging the doctor intentionally misdiagnosed and over-treated patients for profit.
The attorneys for the U.S. government and the attorneys for Zamora Quezada met before Hinojosa on Thursday after the defense filed a motion requesting dates for the loss and sentencing hearings.
The only issue under dispute between the two parties was the timing of the exchange of information.
The government attorneys wanted both parties to turn over exhibits and witness lists at the same time but the defense believed they should one more week in order to prepare based off how the government planned to proceed.
Ultimately, the judge instructed the government to turn over the information by Oct. 7. while the defense was given until Oct. 14.
During the loss hearing, the government is expected to present a summary witness who will review claims data from the doctor’s clinic, according to Adrienne Frazior, one of the attorneys representing the government.
Frazior added they planned on having patients testify during the actual sentencing hearing but could have them testify during the loss hearing if they judge preferred, though that would likely cause the hearing to last more than a week.
Stephen Lee, one of the attorneys for Zamora Quezada, questioned the victims on whose testimony the government would be relying, alleging that some of the former patients who called the victim hotline were did not call to complain about the doctor at all yet were still labeled as victims.
The objections to those witnesses, however, will likely be resolved as the loss hearing approaches.
Whether the hearing will be held via video conference or in person is also yet to be determined. The judge and the government expressed a preference for holding it in person but that would ultimately depend on the COVID-19 situation at that time.
A date for the actual sentencing hearing will be set upon the conclusion of the loss hearing.