The case involves American crooks, nursing homes, doctors, hospital workers, and over a billion in lost taxpayer dollars.
Editor: One of my readers is urging me to write something about American frauds, crooks and criminals so I’ve picked this news about a case the federal government says is its largest bust (so far). (Incidentally, the charity fraud posts like the one I wrote about yesterday are about Americans too!)
Today’s story is about former ‘one-percenter’ Philip Esformes and his father Rabbi Morris Esformes and their nursing home empire.
From the Miami Herald on Tuesday,
Once among the ‘1 percent,’ executive faces $1 billion Medicare fraud trial
Not long ago, Miami Beach executive Philip Esformes was living quite comfortably among America’s “1 percent,” raking in millions from his healthcare business, gobbling up pricey real estate and darting around the country in chartered jets.
Then, in a flash, his luxurious lifestyle went poof: FBI agents arrested Esformes in July 2016 and he suddenly became the poster boy for the biggest Medicare fraud case in the country. He was charged with bilking $1 billion out of the federal healthcare program for the elderly and disabled, while his vast business assets and bank accounts were frozen. Worse, Esformes, 50, was ordered held without bail at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.
Esformes was back in court Monday for one final hearing before he goes to trial by himself on Feb. 11. Once always tan and fit, he looked wan and frail as his defense team tried in vain to delay the start of trial. They sought more time to review the Justice Department’s long list of patients who prosecutors say received no services or medically unnecessary treatment at Esformes’ Miami-Dade chain of skilled-nursing and assisted-living facilities.
Esformes is standing trial alone because all of his co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty, including a physician’s assistant, Arnaldo Carmouze, and a former Larkin Community Hospital outpatient director, Odette Barcha. In January, both admitted that they recycled Medicare patients through the hospital and Esformes’ network of nursing homes and ALFs in an elaborate bribery scheme that prosecutors say was orchestrated by the healthcare executive.
Carmouze, 59, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud Medicare by accepting bribes for making patient referrals to Larkin and Esformes’ healthcare facilities. Barcha, 52, pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay bribes to physicians to refer patients to Larkin and receiving kickbacks herself to move patients into Esformes’ facilities.
Read the story, the list of charges is stunning, including this one:
Esformes is also accused of referring his own network of patients to convicted healthcare-fraud offenders, including Guillermo and Gabriel Delgado, who are serving prison time. The brothers admitted swindling Medicare for mental-health, prescription-drug, and home-healthcare services, and they ultimately helped federal investigators target the Miami Beach executive.
According to the indictment, the brothers paid some kickbacks for the patients by disguising them as payments for escort services for Esformes as well as related travel and hotel expenses.
Esformes was also charged with obstructing justice because prosecutors say he plotted in 2015 with the Delgado brothers to help one of them leave Miami for Israel to avoid trial.
Accused wealthy fraudster’s alleged parenting style: ‘Money is king’
The federal Medicare Fraud Strike Force was involved in the extensive investigation.
Are you keeping tabs of loved ones in nursing homes? Are they receiving treatment they don’t need while the facility bills Medicare? Or are they perhaps keeping a rehab patient longer than is necessary simply to milk the system, a system that is predicted to be insolvent by 2026?
Imagine “Medicare for all” that the Dems continue to clamor for!