Berenice Garcia

Berenice Garcia covers Western Hidalgo County and Starr County for The Monitor. She can be reached at or (956) 683-4432.

Former staffer testifies about false records in healthcare fraud trial

When it came time to compiling patient files for an audit, employees of Dr. Jorge Zamora Quezada’s clinic replaced missing sonogram images with those of other patients, according to one of those employees who testified on Monday and Tuesday in the ongoing healthcare fraud trial. The doctor, his wife Meisy Zamora and two of their employees — Estella Santos Natera and Felix Ramos — are currently on trial on allegations that they participated in an alleged scheme to defraud health insurers by misdiagnosing and over-treating patients. The federal indictment also alleges the scheme included tampering with medical records and money laundering to conceal the source of the funds they made from the alleged scheme. Read the full story at

Former employee testifies to billing practices in healthcare fraud case

A former employee for Dr. Jorge Zamora Quezada, the rheumatologist on trial for alleged healthcare fraud, testified Friday of unusual instructions she received as the billing supervisor for the doctor’s clinic. Graciela Salinas, a certified medical coder, was called up to testify as a witness for the government which is being represented by Adrienne Ellen Frazior. Salinas said she worked at the Center for Arthritis and Osteoporosis, Zamora Quezada’s clinic in Edinburg, for about two years between January 2004 and December 2005. Read the full story at

Former patients take the stand in healthcare fraud trial

Former patients of Dr. Jorge Zamora Quezada took the stand Thursday to tell their stories of being diagnosed by the doctor only to be told later by another physician the initial diagnosis was incorrect. Zamora Quezada, a rheumatologist, is on trial on accusations of running a healthcare scheme to defraud health insurers by misdiagnosing and over-treating patients. His wife, Meisy Zamora, and two employees of their clinics are also accused of participating in the scheme, which allegedly also involved money laundering and obstruction. Read the full story at

Jury selected in doctor’s healthcare fraud trial

A jury panel of 10 women and four men were selected Wednesday to decide the case of Dr. Jorge Zamora Quezada and his co-defendants who are accused of participating in a healthcare fraud scheme. The 12 jurors and alternates were selected after an hours-long process that began Wednesday morning and concluded around 2:30 p.m. Read the full story at

Doctor heads to trial in healthcare scheme

Dr. Jorge Zamora-Quezada will finally be going to trial Wednesday, more than a year after his arrest in May 2018 for allegedly running a healthcare scheme from his rheumatology practices in Edinburg, Brownsville and San Antonio. Government prosecutors allege that his wife, Meisy Zamora and two employees — Felix Ramos and Estella Santos Natera — also participated in the scheme, which allegedly involved defrauding health insurers by misdiagnosing and over-treating patients. On Wednesday, the attorneys for the government and the defendants’ attorneys met for a status conference, during which U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa addressed pending motions. Read the full story at

Early voting in La Joya runoffs continues

Early voting in the three runoff elections for the city of La Joya resumes Monday morning following a pause for the Thanksgiving holiday. The races for mayor, city council place 2, and city council place 4, which were up for election during the Nov. 5 general, all went into runoffs after none of the candidates in any of the races earned a majority of the votes. Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas came in second in the general election with 34.32% of the vote, or 533 votes, according to the final certified results. Read the full story at

Former Mission city attorney announces candidacy for new county court

Former Mission city attorney Abiel Flores is running to be the first judge to preside over County Court-at-Law No. 9, one of Hidalgo County’s newly created courts. Flores announced his candidacy Monday in a news release touting his credentials. Apart from serving as the Mission city attorney, he was also previously an assistant district attorney with the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office. Read the full story at

Family declines autopsy in RGC toddler’s death

The cause of death of a 2-year-old girl who died last week in Rio Grande City after suffering from flu-like symptoms, including fever and vomiting, will remain unconfirmed after the family declined an autopsy. The Rio Grande City police department had been investigating the death of the toddler, but on Monday a spokesperson for the city confirmed the child's remains were taken to Mexico. Read the full story at

Judge temporarily removes RGC CISD trustee from post

A judge temporarily suspended Rio Grande City school board trustee Daniel J. Garcia from his position Monday, pending a trial on whether the removal will be permanent. Visiting state Judge David Stith signed the order, making the suspension effective immediately. A trial date for the case has yet to be set. “Obviously, I disagree with his ruling but both Danny and I respect his ruling,” Garcia’s attorney, Gocha Ramirez said Monday afternoon. “We would have preferred that he had a hearing and we would have preferred that we be allowed to put on evidence so that he could have heard that there was not enough evidence to support a temporary suspension, but he chose not to, which is within his discretion, and both Danny and myself respect his decision.” Read the full story at

Attorneys argue over statements made by co-defendant in 2017 Starr murder case

Arguments over the admissibility of a statement to law enforcement made by Sebastian Torres, a defendant in the murder case of Rio Grande City teenager Chayse Olivarez, were presented Friday during a pre-trial hearing. Though visiting state District Judge Rogelio Valdez said he would make a decision on the statement at a later date, he determined that the parties would need more time in the lead up to the trial and therefore pushed the beginning of trial from Dec. 3 to March 23, 2020. Torres, 18, is charged with capital murder and tampering with physical evidence in Olivarez’s death in 2017. Read the full story at