Millionaire Fights for Bail in Alleged Medicare Fraud Scheme

October 4th 2016
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

Philip Esformes awaits bail on charges of money laundering, conspiracy, and health care fraud.

One of Florida’s wealthiest health care operators is struggling to post bond after allegedly orchestrating the largest Medicare fraud case in US history, reportedYahooNews.

Philip Esformes, 47, and 2 others were indicted on July 21, 2016, for several charges, including money laundering, conspiracy, and health care fraud, according to the US Justice Department Criminal Division.

“This is the largest, single criminal health care fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice,” said Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general of the Criminal Division, in a statement after the indictment.

The millionaire owns the Esformes Network of more than 20 skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Miami-Dade,Yahooreported. On August 5, 2016, Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres denied Esformes bail, ruling him a flight risk and potential obstructer of justice.

Yahooreported that Esformes allegedly bilked government programs out of $1 billion using his chain of nursing homes, and a network of hospitals, health care providers, and physicians to fraudulently bill taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medicaid programs.

“Through the use of interstate wires, submitted and caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid in an approximate amount of $1 billion for services that were medically unnecessary, never provided, and procured through the payment of kickbacks and bribes,” stated Department of Justice courtrecords.

Esformes’ lawyers are appealing Judge Torre’s decision to deny him bail, professing their client’s innocence, according to theMiami Herald. Since Esformes was detained, more than 30 friends, rabbis, and family members have collectively pledged $3 million to help the millionaire obtain bond.

The head of a Chicago rabbinical college, Rabbi Avrohom Levin, who committed more than $2.2 million toward Esformes’ bail, wrote “the news of detainment and charges against [him] were both shocking and disheartening. Philip’s name has always been synonymous with family and community,” reported theHerald.

Despite this, the judge denied the defendant bail on the grounds of obstruction of justice, after Esformes plotted last year with 2 co-conspirators, also charged with fraud, to help 1 of them avoid trial by leaving Miami for Israel, according to theHerald.

Former hospital administrator, Odette Barcha, 49, and physician’s assistant, Arnaldo Carmouze, 56, were also charged in the scheme; however, the judge granted them bonds, according toYahoo.

One of Esformes’ lawyers, Michael Pasano, issued a statement toPEOPLEon behalf of his client.

“Government indictments have a way of demonizing the accused and often present an unfair and incorrect image of the person charged. That is true here,” Pasano said. “Mr. Esformes is still fighting to be released from custody. He is also working with his lawyers to defend himself at trial and clear his name. The Government case relies on testimony of crooks who were caught and now are pointing a finger at Mr. Esformes as a means to obtain lesser sentences. We hope to demonstrate at trial that Mr. Esformes was unwittingly taken advantage of by people he trusted and not a part of their crimes.”

If Esformes is convicted he faces a possible life sentence, reportedYahoo.

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