Prosecutors said there is no evidence of a terrorist threat from an Iraqi national who impersonated a doctor at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
That assurance came during an arraignment and bail-setting hearing for Zaid Jeorge, 27, who is also accused of overstaying his visitor’s visa.
While new information was revealed at Friday's hearing, District Attorney prosecutor Paul Reizen said investigators still do not know why Jeorge posed as an anesthesiologist at the La Mesa hospital.
Also up in the air is how Jeorge managed to move around the hospital, including the surgeon’s lounge in the operating room area, for at least two weeks.
The prosecutor also revealed that Jeorge tried unsuccessfully to access patient data from a remote location, and did establish something of a relationship with a Sharp Grossmont physician through LinkedIn.
The prosecutor revealed that Jeorge was tripped up by a suspicious staffer, who asked him to confirm his status as a Sharp HealthCare physician. That employee checked the hospital’s database but found no listing for a Zaid Jeorge. The staffer also determined that Jeorge had not graduated from Harvard Medical School, as Jeorge had claimed.
“And then [Jeorge] changed his story and said he was at Sharp Grossmont as an intern, basically working with a doctor," Reizen told reporters after Friday's hearing. "All of those things were not true."
Jeorge posted $25,000 bail after his arrest last week for felony impersonation of a physician. His lawyer said Jeorge then turned himself in to federal immigration officers because he knew his visa had expired.
At Friday's hearing, Jeorge pleaded not guilty to the felony impersonation charge.
His lawyer asked Judge Robert Amador to reinstate the $25,000, but Amador instead agreed to the prosecutor’s request for $100,000 bail. Amador said he was concerned about the fact that Jeorge had a Swedish passport, and the impersonation allegations.
“The facts are quite alarming to the court,” Amador said. “What was going on, and what could have gone on, does give the court significant concern."
Sharp HealthCare issued the following statement after Jeorge’s arraignment:
While Mr. Jeorge’s unauthorized presence on our campus was of great concern to us, we are pleased that we have no evidence of patient interaction or access to patient information. We are also continuing to evaluate this event and reinforcing and enhancing Sharp HealthCare’s security measures. Increased emphasis is being placed on badge identification and caution in responding to social media messaging.