Crimes and Misdemeanors, Survival of the Frummest – Systemic Fraud [Opinion]


Requesting Donations. If you follow this blog, please find it in yourself to donate. Click here.

3 Ways to Increase the Amount of Money in Your Bank Account | Financial  Eagles

This opinion piece is being posted with full permission of the Author, Rabbi Yossi N. Minor edits and formatting changes have been made from the original which can be found on Facebook, here.

Survival of the Frummest, Part 3 — Crimes and Misdemeanors –

One of the most troubling aspects of today’s ultra-Orthodox community is the systemic fraud perpetuated by so-called frumme Yidden. This fraud, aka geneivishe shtick, comes in many varieties and flavors, but the common denominator is that it’s all illegal. The most prevalent of these frauds are those perpetrated against government social welfare programs.To the extent that there is welfare abuse within the hareidi community, one may ask, what makes it systemic? The answer is simple: the various Hareidi community councils (BP, CH, Willie, etc.) actively encourage and assist community members to sign up for every welfare program available. Now, it is true that many of these individuals were eligible for the programs at the time they signed up, but as their income grows, they become ineligible. However, once a hareidi individual with little secular education is dependent on government welfare, he will be reluctant to give up welfare benefits.And this is precisely the Hareidi communities’ game plan from day one. In other words, the community consciously regards the government’s social safety net — food stamps, medicaid, wic, section 8, etc. — as part of their budget, not as a last resort for a few struggling individuals. Every year, hundreds of Hareidim get married with the intention beforehand of relying on government welfare to make ends meet. The Crown Heights Community Council and the various other Hareidi community councils in NYC were established with the purpose, among others, of filling out welfare forms for community members. Thus, to use yeshiva language, welfare for Hareidim is not a believed, but rather a lechatchillah.An integral part of the welfare fraud and abuse within the Hareidi community is the wide-spread phenomena of working off the books, or under the table. Without working off the books, families’ income may increase over time to the point of risking losing welfare benefits. This is the reason that most, if not all, yeshiva teachers, rebbes, and administrators work either completely off the books or half on and half off. By working off the books, the Hareidi community also ensures that their taxes will be lower than otherwise – or that they’ll pay no taxes at all. In short, as the Talmud teaches, aveirah goreret aveirah, a transgression brings another transgression in its wake.

This is how Hareidi welfare fraud leads to tax fraud.

One might assume that welfare fraud would be more likely to be committed by the 40% of Hareidim who live below the poverty line. But Hareidi fraud is not confined to the poor alone. On the contrary, as you climb up the food chain, the fraud only gets larger and more pernicious.

Rubashkin from Crown Heights and Samet from Kiryas Joel are perhaps the most colorful and well-known criminal defendants within the Hareidi community. However, the minyan at the Otisville Correctional Facility is large and ever-changing as new members join and old members leave .This is not to say there is no fraud within the Modern Orthodox Jewish community.

The implosion of Platinum Partners — the shady hedge fund run by Murray Huberfeld and Mark Nordlicht — is one example of fraudulent activity perpetrated by members of the MO community. Overall, though, MO fraud is not a community organized activity. An MO council to help individuals apply for welfare does not exist in Teaneck. The same cannot be said for the Hareidi community, where the fraud is wide-spread and systemic and where many members are semi-literate at best in English.

One may ask, how can systemic fraud be so prevalent in ultra-Orthodox communities? Aren’t they meant to be the ones upholding the Torah, which directly forbids stealing?

The answer is rather straightforward: stealing from the government, ie. gentiles, is not considered stealing. The logic behind this notion goes something like this: the Talmud rules that one need not return the lost object of a gentile or excess money paid for goods by mistake. Welfare benefits are akin to a lost object or excess money – and thus need not be returned. This is where racism also comes into play. Hareidim claim that welfare fraud is pervasive among other minority communities, so why shouldn’t we also get money from the government? At least we’re using it for Torah and Mitzvot!

It’s only a matter of time before the government wakes up and realizes the systemic nature of welfare fraud within Hareidi enclaves. When that time comes, which it will eventually, Hareidi society will have to begin preparing its youth for the real world. Until then, the fraud continues.

By: Rabbi Yossi N.

The Nursing Homes that Misused Federal Funds and Our Elderly Died -Covid-19 pt.1

THE DETERIORATION OF THE HEALTH OF OUR ELDERLY AND THE FAILURES OF U.S. NURSING HOMES AND THE OVERSIGHT THAT SHOULD BE PROTECTING OUR AGED…

PAYOFFS, KICK-BACKS AND FRAUD

Dear Reader:

As many of you know, the blogger behind most of the stories on these pages is, in my career life, an attorney. I focus on finance, investments, securities, transactional work and legal fraud/due diligence.

The reason for my anonymity had always been because I did not want these stories to gain or lose credibility on the basis of the numerous well-studied and earned letters I could put after my name. The takeaway of this blog’s readership should have come from someone nameless and faceless, not my personal schooling. While anonymity also served to keep me safe from those who know I am holding a deck of information, it was not a grand deception, as many might think. It simply provided objectivity.

However, the nursing home story is different. It is very personal. The substandard care and the lack of oversight in US nursing homes is one of the major reasons why this blog got started, beyond the fraud components; and, at the end of the day, it is heartbreaking, breathtaking in scope and ingrained in our entire medical care system. 

Nursing home facilities – a term I will use going forward, refers to rehabilitation centers, step-down facilities, sub-acute facilities, traditional long-term nursing care, assisted living and the entire umbrella of facilities geared toward sick or elderly patients who will either never recover from their ailments or who need these facilities on their way back to recovery. 

In my life as an attorney and fraud analyst, I am good at what I do. I see everything in patterns. And, when people commit frauds, they don’t change up their methodology; their patterns are always the same.

Most fraudsters don’t have the personal capacity to conduct themselves differently. When something works, why change it up? I have conducted hundreds, if not thousands of investigations and sometimes I am not quite sure what’s wrong with what I am seeing; but I know it is bent, out of place, mismatched. And generally, history tells me everything else I need to know to fill in the blanks.

Fraudsters, morally challenged people, humanity’s ingrates take a theme and commit the same variation built on that theme over and over again. It is an addiction and there is no cure. And, in my experience, people don’t change. If someone cheated on his SEC Series 7 or 63 exam, for example, he will cheat on everything that follows. There will be no future for honest deal-making.  The first lie is hard to tell. After that, it’s a matter of following the same action to the next level.

The most egregious Nursing home facility owners are the same. Once they discount the humanity of the patients in their care, once ownership becomes a game of finance and not human life, the rest comes easily. It is like playing a game of Monopoly. The nameless and faceless patients are just that, squares on a board game. The patients in these facilities are no more than Boardwalk or Park Place or another of the many colored properties that can be bought off the board in the quest for huge financial gains, for owning the bank.

The fact that the moral imperative is to provide quality care for people who have lived much of their lives and are thus nearing their end is largely irrelevant. Nursing home ownership is about the profit. And, the steps toward profit bar no unacceptable crime. Medicare/Medicaid fraud, Insurance policies and payouts on death benefits, Covid-19 Neglect, Abuse, under-staffing, Government subsidies that are manipulated and misused, charges never provided are all in the rules of play. Humanity? It just doesn’t matter. The bottom line is profit. 

Continue reading

The Anti-Semitism Mantra and the Victimized, Who Really are the Victims?

 

Who is Really Creating the Narrative?

Weaponizing the anti-Semitism “Mantra”

For those readers who do not know the definition, a “Mantra” is a slogan that is repeated over and over again for the purposes of concentration or meditation. It is, in other words, a form of mind-control. Some might say it can be a form of brainwashing. At it’s purest, a Mantra can be powerful tool for self-awareness, calm, a sense of peace. But, like all else, the pendulum swings both ways. Yin has its Yang.

Anti-Semitism as a Mantra, when used in weaponized form by those who would prefer to  distract attention from their behavior, shields any and all scrutiny. Criticism of the behavior gets viewed through the lens of a hater and not simply an investigator. As such the group, however irrelevant to the narrative, gets to act with impunity. The constant repetitive use of the term anti-Semitism is tragic insofar as it diminishes the value of the events and circumstances in historical context that led to the very word’s development in Judeo-Christian lexicon, the slaughter of millions of Jews.

While there have been other mass slaughters of people in human history, there does not appear to be a similar term for those who hate or show hostility against a group of people. The events of September 11, 2001, rightfully or wrongfully, led to a fear of and hostility towards overtly religious Muslims; but there is no similar word that describes that “group-hate” mentality. While anti-Semite might apply, it has not developed to describe the hatred towards Muslims.

African Americans and People of Color (trying to be sensitive with word use here) were enslaved, tortured, bought and sold as chattel and yet actions against them did not lead to a single defined term. Those who hate people of color are simply bigots or racists. Those who hate Asians don’t get a special adjective to describe them, nor do those who hate… well, you get the general gist. Haters of any particular group for whatever reason are defined under a single umbrella – bigot or racist.

Anti-Semitism was uniquely created as a term by history. It is now being uniquely weaponized as a mantra by behavior. That is a frightening and tragic reality. 

We have stated before and will repeat our sentiments here that the insidious distrust and tensions pervading New York and New Jersey are not foundationally about anti-Semitism. They are about over-development, unequal treatment under the law, corruption, judicial impropriety and a whole host of other indignities being perpetrated upon a myriad of different communities, including Jews. That the perpetrators are in large part ultra-Orthodox Jews is a function of the crime statistics and not a function of the community viewing that group harshly.

At least it did not begin that way.

Anyone who wants to turn the scrutiny of the behavior of: developers, landlords, tenants, not-for-profits, LLC’s, school board members, community members, community leaders and the list goes on, into a discussion of hate is allowing crimes to be committed with impunity. The financial crimes are at epidemic levels in New York and New Jersey, and they are going unchecked; because by shining light we are allegedly declaring war on religious Jews, on all Jews. This is the greatest con in history. It is an outright gaming of our very lexicon to allow a community’s members to act with impunity.  As such we are complicit in fostering the use of the anti-Semitism Mantra as a weapon; and it is being used against each and every one of us. This is a very dangerous precedent. 

It is high time that law enforcement, the judiciary, government officials and even Facebook open your eyes to the improprieties that are being committed. It is a moral imperative for ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed and otherwise unaffiliated Jewish leaders to take a stand against the blanket use of a the anti-Semitism mantra as a weapon. By participating in the repetition of the term you assist in the perpetration of crimes against entire groups of people.

Inevitably this will lead to real, unadulterated hatred. It is just a matter of time. People are getting hurt. Communities are being plundered. This is not victim blaming unless you sit and contemplate who are the real victims in the equation.

Look outside the box that would otherwise group the perpetrators because it is wholly irrelevant that so many are visibly religious Jews. Don’t let them convince you of a different reality. Had they been visibly religious Muslims or FLDS, or any other visibly religious group, there would not be a special word, to be used to create smoke and mirrors. Anti-Semitism is not the problem. 

But, a warning for the weary, tread that fine line of scrutiny and criticism carefully and be mindful. It is a treacherous road to travel. There are many innocent and visibly religious Jews who are being harmed both by the crime epidemic and by the repetition of the mantra. And they are worse off than everyone else.

Esformes, Sentenced to 20 Years, Refused Offer of 4-Year Reduction in Exchange for Admission of Guilt and Plans Appeal

In 2016, then-U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer announced a $1 billion Medicare fraud case against Miami Beach healthcare executive Philip Esformes and others at a news conference.

Miami healthcare exec Esformes sentenced to 20 years in biggest Medicare fraud case

Philip Esformes, who once reigned over a healthcare kingdom that made him a super-rich man, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for paying bribes and receiving kickbacks in a massive $1 billion Medicare fraud case touted by federal prosecutors as the biggest in the nation.

U.S. District Judge Robert Scola said Esformes’ scheme to generate thousands of Medicare patients for his chain of assisted-living and nursing-home facilities in Miami-Dade was “unmatched in our community, if not our country.”

The judge said the taxpayer-funded Medicare program for the elderly and indigent was built on an honor system, and that “Mr. Esformes violated that trust in epic proportions.”

Before Scola issued his punishment, the wealthy Miami Beach business executive sobbed as he apologized to the judge. “I lost everything I loved,” Esformes, 50, said, admitting he was a “broken” man who was “disgusted” by his criminal activity. “I destroyed my marriage. I scarred my three children. There is no one to blame but myself. I accept responsibility for what I have done and regret it.”

Convicted at trial in April of 20 healthcare-related bribery, kickback and money-laundering charges, Esformes gave an emotional 16-minute speech that generally acknowledged his criminal life but also aimed for mercy. He has been held in the Miami federal detention center since his arrest three years ago.

“Your honor, I don’t want this [crime] to be the only legacy I leave behind,” said Esformes, whose lawyers and supporters in the courtroom spoke of his personal and financial charity, especially in the Jewish, medical and academic communities.

Justice Department prosecutor Allan Medina said Esformes not only exploited patients to line his pockets at his chain of 16 assisted-living and skilled-nursing facilities, but “corrupted” the whole Medicare system in his zeal to fill patient beds without providing actual care.

“He corrupted the entire system — the Medicare and Medicaid system,” Medina said. “Philip Esformes had every opportunity. He had wealth, [making] $78 million in 2017. … He has no excuse for what he did. He has no respect for the law. He has no remorse whatsoever.

“He was the boss,” Medina said. “He bullied people to get what he wanted.”

Justice Department prosecutors Medina, Elizabeth Young and James Hayes argued that Esformes had billed $1 billion to the federal health insurance program for questionable services that patients largely didn’t need or even receive between 2006 and 2016. For his sentencing, they estimated the government’s loss at more than $550 million and urged the judge to give Esformes 30 years in prison.

However, one of Esformes’ defense attorneys, Howard Srebnick, argued that the government’s estimated loss to Medicare was grossly inflated. He said the loss was as low as $690,000 and argued for a 10-year sentence.

Scola then cut Esformes a break, saying the loss was between $4.9 million and $8.3 million, which helped reduce the defendant’s potential sentence significantly. Scola called his estimate “highly conservative.”

At a critical juncture before he imposed Esformes’ punishment, the judge seemed willing to lower his final sentence by four years if the defendant agreed to elaborate on his “acceptance of responsibility” in his original statement to Scola. The judge said he would only acknowledge Esformes’ acceptance if he specifically admitted he paid bribes and committed other crimes. But, after Srebnick consulted with counsels Roy Black and Jackie Perczek, Esformes’ legal team chose not to go that route because it would have precluded their appeal of his trial convictions.

“There’s not much more Mr. Esformes will say today about his feelings and remorse,” Srebnick told the judge, arguing he has suffered greatly in federal detention, endured unending shame, and is no longer the arrogant man he was before his arrest.

After the sentencing hearing, Srebnick said Esformes plans to raise critical pre-trial allegations on appeal that had attacked how federal authorities obtained documents and recordings that led to the defendant’s indictment.

“For three years, the government alleged a $1 billion fraud, but today the district judge rejected that grossly exaggerated characterization,” Srebnick told the Miami Herald. “We are optimistic that the [federal] court of appeals will reinstate the magistrate judge’s findings of deplorable prosecutorial misconduct and will vacate the convictions and sentence.”

To continue reading click here.

Tish James and the GOP…. and then There’s Aron Wieder, Ms. James Have You Ever Spoken to Concerned Rocklanders?

AG James, the video may seem disturbing, but perhaps you have not considered what is REALLY Happening in Rockland County. Allying with Aron Wieder is Almost an Oxymoron, and Supporting his Political Allies in Rockland is Degrading the Views of Those Who Have Legitimate Concerns, Whether GOP or Otherwise…

Just an Opinion

Tish James and GOP Video

It should be noted for the reading public that as far as LM is aware, AG James has NEVER come to Rockland County, New York and sat with the secular and non-Jewish community to get their take on events in Rockland County, which is largely a democratic county many of whom are in agreement with the GOP on these points. She has, however, visited with the ultra-Orthodox, as she was campaigning.

AG James has, most likely, not taken a look at the tax registers in Rockland County to see just how many houses in Rockland County are listed as LLC owned with numerous LLC’s registered to the same addresses, some of which are for-profit and some non-for-profit (church (synagogue) based so reduced reporting requirements and reduced taxes) and how much that situation (reduced taxes paid by those homes) is costing taxpayers in Rockland County.

AG James has NEVER taken a moment to consider the battle between those like Aron Wieder who favor religious education absent secular interference but who still demand funds from the State to pay for that education. To his credit Wieder did allegedly work to get his community vaccinated; but most of that community is still comprised of anti-vaxxers costing County taxpayers thousands if not hundreds of thousands in unnecessary healthcare costs, whether related to the measles outbreak or otherwise.

AG James has oversimplified a problem. If she really wants to benefit the communities of Rockland (everyone, not just the Democrats and more particularly the ultra-Orthodox who funded her campaign), which is a melting pot of many religious (including Jews who are not Hasidic), she should focus on the crime and corruption within Rockland.

The crime, corruption, political scandals and fraud are costing Rocklanders hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars. The payoffs of housing code reviewers, the use of Medicaid cards to buy food at Costco, the under-the-table payments to women who work in families in cash while also collecting Medicaid and foodstamps is an open secret in Rockland. Costco checkout people laugh about it amongst themselves.

Weighing in on this subject does nothing but give credence to those who are wholly ambivalent to the concerns of the greater Rockland County Community. That video may seem inappropriate and was both poorly contemplated, lacking in decorum and wholly fear-mongering; but it stems for somewhere. It should not be written-off as a deplorable political tactic. It should be understood for a deeper concern amongst Rocklanders. It comes from a very real concern, albeit largely unspoken. To write-it-off without considering the factual truths is to forsake those not depicted in that video and not responsible for its writing and dissemination, the voice of the “others” who have legitimate concerns, whether they funded AG James’ campaign or not. 

College Scandal Tied to Massive Medicare Fraud Case and the Key Worldwide Foundation – Esformes and Singer

William “Rick” Singer

FBI found clues to college admissions scandal years earlier in massive Medicare fraud case

Federal authorities were combing through the finances and phone records of a Miami businessman suspected of Medicare fraud when they came across a curious name: Rick Singer.

Philip Esformes, who was accused of farming out patients from his nursing homes to steal millions in bogus insurance claims, had sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to a foundation Singer controlled. And in text messages discovered on Esformes’ phone, the men discussed how one of Esformes’ sons had performed on his college entrance exams.

Only years later would authorities learn what Esformes had paid Singer to do: Slip his daughter into USC as a fake soccer player and fix his youngest son’s college entrance exam, according to statements a prosecutor made in court and sources familiar with the case.

Singer has said he struck similar deals with dozens more parents, an admission that has roiled higher education and implicated elites from Hollywood, Silicon Valley and the Newport coast.

But in 2016, when agents seized the iPhone Esformes used to text Singer and obtained their messages, Singer was a peripheral, if curious, player in an enormous healthcare fraud investigation. The Esformes case marks the first time Singer is known to have crossed the radar of law enforcement.

Singer would run his admissions scam undisturbed until another team of investigators, working in Boston on an altogether different case, caught a second glimpse of his operation in 2018 and unraveled it.

Andrew Lelling, the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts, unveiled that investigation in March. Fifty people were charged, including dozens of parents and coaches at such elite schools as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and USC, who were accused of selling spots that their schools reserved for recruited athletes.

Esformes has not been charged in the college admissions case. Convicted in April of paying and receiving kickbacks in connection with a federal healthcare program and other crimes, he faces decades in prison when a judge sentences him in September. His attorneys declined to comment.

Spokespeople for federal prosecutors in Boston and Miami declined to comment.

It is unclear how much federal authorities uncovered of Esformes’ dealings with Singer while investigating his case. But at his trial in March, a fraud expert used by the government to make sense of his finances testified that Esformes had made $400,000 in payments over several years to Singer’s foundation. At least some of the money was traced to Medicaid and Medicare funds, the expert testified.

Singer has since admitted that his Key Worldwide Foundation was little more than a sham used to launder money from clients and parcel out bribes to coaches, test proctors and bagmen.

Esformes check to The Key.jpg

To continue reading click here.

Esformes Must Forfeit Interests in Long-Term Care Companies, if Only Others Would Follow

Esformes must forfeit interest in long-term care operating companies, judge rules

Philip Esformes, the Florida assisted living and skilled nursing facility owner found guilty in April of more than 20 charges in a case that the federal government described as “the largest single criminal healthcare fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice,” must forfeit his interest in seven operating companies related to his facilities, a federal court has ruled.

The decision, issued July 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, was a denial of Esformes’ motion asking the court to acquit a jury’s verdict that the assets were forfeitable. The judge’s order applies to Esformes’ interest in the operating companies for the following assisted living or skilled nursing properties: Eden Gardens in Miami, Fair Havens Center in Miami Springs, Flamingo Park Manor in Hialeah, Harmony Health Center in Kendall, North Dade Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in North Miami, Nursing Center at Mercy in Miami and the now-closed Oceanside Extended Care Center in Miami Beach.

“Esformes’s operating companies gave his business a facade of legitimacy as he used them to hold bank accounts and operate the various SNFs and ALFs engaged in the elaborate money laundering and kickback scheme,” U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Hr, wrote. “Accordingly, the Court finds that there is sufficient evidence to ‘permit a reasonable jury to conclude that the Government has proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the property is subject to forfeiture.’ ”

Scola also denied Esformes’ motions seeking acquittal and a new trial.

To continue reading click here.