BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - About a month before his sentencing date, Dr. Albert Diaz has people fighting for his freedom.
Diaz was convicted in March for his role in a federal scheme to defraud a health-care program for the military.
At a rally for the doctor on Thursday, many supporters called for leniency, saying the doctor he is innocent.
"He is probably the kindest and most gentle, wonderful man I have ever known," said former nurse Holly Schumate. "And the best physician I have ever worked with in my 30-year nursing career."
Schumate shared the mindset of all those attending an event in his support.
"I feel like he got set up, this was a trap," she said. "I don't believe for one second Albert Diaz is guilty and God knows that. God will prevail."
Violet Hawes is emotional about the whole ordeal. "He goes to the church I go to," she said with tears. "You don't know what it's like not to see him there." She wants one result. "That he can get out today. I don't think he deserves to be there."
Dr. Frank Martin is a long-time friend. "I've read the indictment. From what I can tell, there were only a few patients," he said. "And he's been horribly punished. He may have done wrong, but he's been horribly punished."
Diaz was convicted on 16 counts related to writing prescriptions for people he never saw and then attempting to cover it up. He faces 305 years in prison and $7.5 million in fines.
In a telephone call, he made from his jail cell to his supporters, the 78-year-old Diaz remains confident. "I have no secrets," he said to the crowd. "As you know me, I have never lied to any of you, I've certainly not lied to the government."
He said he appreciated those speaking out on his behalf. "Thank you so very much. I love all of you. I appreciate all of you. And it brings tears. ... Thank you. I love you."
A sentencing hearing for Diaz will be June 7 in federal court in Hattiesburg. In the meantime, he remains behind bars in Stone County.