Our theory is that someone in Trump’s government or advisory group is in the process of going into business with Philip Esformes and the commuted sentence helps to facilitate that. Just a theory…
Suffice it to say, we have no other statement than that this is a disgraceful decision. It is everything wrong with the Presidential pardon power and a shining example of Trump’s failures as a human being, setting aside his failures as President. Yes. Some would disagree.
It is hard, however, to make a case for commuting the sentence of Esformes, though some have done it and we question their judgement. It would be like setting Bernie Madoff free. That, at this point, would come as no surprise.
Esformes spent years perfecting the craft of defrauding the healthcare industry and patients in nursing homes paid the price. He is a godless creature of habit and no amount of prayer in our view diminishes the harm he caused to vulnerable people and the healthcare industry at large. This opinion is yet another condemnation of the lack of nursing care oversight in the United States.
We submit that Trump should spend a few months in one of Esformes’ worst homes and see what he thinks afterwards. It could be almost like “Undercover Boss.” Trump would be forced to allow no one to know he is the President and get treated like other patients. If only…
Philip Esformes – Today, President Trump commuted the term of imprisonment of Philip Esformes, while leaving the remaining aspects of his sentence, including supervised release and restitution, intact. This commutation is supported by former Attorneys General Edwin Meese and Michael Mukasey, as well as former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson. In addition, former Attorneys General Edwin Meese, John Ashcroft, and Alberto Gonzalez, as well as other notable legal figures such as Ken Starr, have filed in support of his appeal challenging his conviction on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct related to violating attorney-client privilege.
While in prison, Mr. Esformes, who is 52, has been devoted to prayer and repentance and is in declining health.
To read the article in its entirety in Yeshiva World News, click here.
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.
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.”
Florida long-term care business mogul Philip Esformes faces the possibility of decades in prison after being convicted Friday in the largest healthcare fraud scheme ever charged by the U.S. Justice Department.
A 12-person jury deliberated for four days last week before agreeing that the 50-year-old entrepreneur was guilty on 20 out of 26 charges. Those include paying and receiving kickbacks, money laundering and conspiracy to commit federal program bribery. Jurors did not, however, reach a verdict on the main count — that Esformes conspired to defraud Medicare.
Prosecutors blasted Esformes following the conclusion of the eight-week trial for the $1.3 billion scheme to defraud both Medicare and Medicaid, calling him a “despicable,” “vampire” who was fueled by “unbounded greed.”
“Even beyond the vital dollars lost … Esformes exploited and victimized patients by providing inadequate medical care and poor conditions in his nursing homes,” Shimon Richmond, special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s Miami Regional Office, said in a statement. “We will continue the fight against such parasites.”
Sentencing has not been scheduled yet, but according to past reports, if convicted, Esformes could stand to face decades in prison.
He was first arrested in July 2016 and has been held without bond since. He could spend the rest of his life in prison, even without a healthcare fraud conspiracy, the Miami Herald said Friday.
Former Miami Beach healthcare mogul Philip Esformes, 50, faced a federal jury Tuesday in the first day of one of the biggest Medicare fraud cases of all time.
Jurors will decide whether Esformes led a 10-year conspiracy to bribe doctors to funnel patients to his 16 South Florida nursing homes and then bill the federal government for services the patients never needed or never received through Medicare and Medicaid.
The government claims the scheme amounted to $1 billion in fraud, including $450 million false claims to Medicare and Medicaid, of which Esformes personally pocketed $36 million through a network of 256 bank accounts. Lawyers for Esformes say he’s a businessman, wholly unaware of which services are medically necessary or not, and that the case is nothing more than an insurance dispute with the federal government.
In her opening statement, Elizabeth Young, a federal prosecutor from the criminal fraud division of the Justice Department, described a “rinse and repeat” scheme in which Esformes would cycle patients through his facilities, billing Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years.
“He was the mastermind, he made this happen,” Young said, sometimes pointing at Esformes sitting at the defendant’s table. “He was the owner, operator of these facilities. He got the money from Medicare and Medicaid. He was involved in every step of the way.”
Young said Esformes ordered his inner circle to bribe doctors at hospitals to order patients transferred to his skilled nursing facilities, where he billed Medicare for their stay of 100 days. Then, Young said, Esformes ordered his inner circle to transfer the patients to his assisted living facilities, which don’t require a doctor’s order, where he billed Medicaid for unnecessary medical services or services the patients never received. While the patients were at his assisted living facilities, Young said, Esformes and his co-conspirators would sell the patients’ Medicare numbers to other fraudsters who would bill for more services and rake in tax dollars. Then, Young said, the patients would return to the hospital and the cycle would start all over again.
“He sold his own patients like cattle for money,” Young said.
To cover up the scheme, Young said Esformes ordered his deputies to bribe Florida regulators to get advanced warnings of their inspections and would physically hide patients who didn’t qualify for government-funded care before inspectors arrived.
Roy Black, representing Esformes, used his opening statement to try to torpedo the credibility of the government’s witnesses, many of whom are co-conspirators in the case who have already pleaded guilty.
“They are going to rely on less-than-stellar witnesses: con artists, liars, fraudsters and drug traffickers,” Black said. “These are not people whose word you can rely on.”
Black described the case as merely a dispute between an insurer, the federal government, and a health care operator, painting the prosecution as overzealous.
“You have a dispute with the insurance company and you work it out,” he said. “You have a dispute with the federal government and they crush you.”
Karen Caffiero, left, and her son, Andrew Burg, talk in his room at Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at Aurora Park in East Aurora on May 9. The nursing home is one of 16 in Erie and Niagara counties that were bought by downstate investors since 2007. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)
New York State gave licenses to operate at least 10 Buffalo area nursing homes in the last decade to new owners who had been fined for providing poor care to residents at other nursing homes.
Advocates for nursing home residents say the state must do more to prevent nursing home owners providing low-quality care from buying more long-term care facilities.
“It is a real problem with people getting ownership of facilities when they have a poor record of care in other nursing facilities,” said Toby Edelman, a senior attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “To me the biggest predictor of how a person will do is, how that person did in other facilities the person already owns?”
“New York State falls into this disturbing but all-too-familiar pattern — allowing owners with poor records to take over more facilities,” she said.
Sixteen of the 47 nursing homes in Erie and Niagara counties have been bought since 2007 by for-profit, out-of-town owners. Many of those homes are among the region’s worst rated.
The state allowed some of the out-of-town investors to buy more nursing homes, despite poor ratings and state and federal fines totaling at least $325,000 at ones they already operated.
For instance, in February the state allowed three new New York City area investors to become principals in the corporation that owns Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at Williamsville. The state knew when it approved the change that the new investors owned other nursing homes that had been fined $86,884 in the prior two years for providing poor care. It also knew the federal government was considering an additional $173,110 penalty against one of the homes for failing to protect a disabled resident from abuse.
Yet the state Health Department concluded that it had received “no negative information” about the character and competence of the new co-owners.
The Health Department, which reviews applications to operate nursing homes, now more thoroughly evaluates applicants’ track records running other long-term care facilities, a deputy health commissioner said in September.
Applications to buy nursing homes are approved or rejected by the Health Department’s Public Health and Health Planning Council, 25 volunteers appointed by the governor to serve six-year terms. The members generally represent different disciplines in the health care field from both the public and private sectors.
The Health Department staff about a year ago began providing council members with the federal government’s ratings of other nursing homes owned by prospective buyers, said Deputy Health Commissioner Daniel Sheppard.
He said that sends a message to applicants that quality matters.
But a critic of the council, Assemblyman James Skoufis, D-Woodbury, says its volunteers lack the time to thoroughly vet prospective owners and often rubber-stamp recommendations from the council’s staff.
Skoufis, who was recently elected to the State Senate, has suggested doing away with volunteers and professionalizing the council.
To read the article from THE BUFFALO NEWS, click here.