Sunday, 24 January 2021

Florida businessman convicted of $1BILLION Medicare fraud spent NYE dancing at his daughter's wedding days after Trump commuted his 20-year prison sentence citing his 'declining health'

 A Florida businessman convicted of orchestrating a $1billion Medicare fraud scheme, spent New Year's Eve as a free man and dancing at his daughter's wedding,  days after he was pardoned by President Trump

Philip Esformes, 52, was included in Trump's long list of pardons and commutations granted to more than 200 convicts in the final days of his presidency.

The healthcare executive was convicted in 2019 on 20 criminal counts in what prosecutors described as one of the biggest Medicare fraud cases in US history. 

Esformes had operated a network of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in South Florida and was found guilty of paying kickbacks and bribes to doctors and administrators so they would refer patients to his businesses.      

Philip Esformes
Philip Esformes

Philip Esformes was among those pardoned by President Trump in the final days of his presidency. Esformes, 52, had been serving a 20-year sentence for orchestrating a $1billion Medicare fraud scheme when he was released last month 

Just days after his release, Esformes was photographed dancing at his daughter Serena's wedding held at his home

Just days after his release, Esformes was photographed dancing at his daughter Serena's wedding held at his home

Esformes's daughter Serena (center) and her husband Drew Levey (right) at their wedding

Esformes's daughter Serena (center) and her husband Drew Levey (right) at their wedding

Esformes ultimately served just four of a 20-year prison sentence after his term was commuted on December 22. His daughter Serena is pictured at her wedding days later

Esformes ultimately served just four of a 20-year prison sentence after his term was commuted on December 22. His daughter Serena is pictured at her wedding days later

FBI agents at the time described him as a 'man driven by almost unbounded greed.'

Yet, Esformes ultimately served just four of a 20-year prison sentence after his term was commuted on December 22.

The president at the time claimed the move had been supported by a number of former attorneys general and said Esformes was ailing, but did not specify his health condition.

'While in prison, Mr. Esformes, who is 52, has been devoted to prayer and repentance and is in declining health,' the White House said in a statement. 

Just days after his release however, Esformes was photographed dancing at his daughter Serena's wedding held in the backyard of his multimillion-dollar Miami Beach home on New Year's Eve, the New York Times reported.  

The celebration - and Esformes's pardon - appeared to have angered some of his own neighbors.

On Twitter, Gary Ressler shared a photo of a gift basket sent by the newlyweds to neighbors as an apology for the loud festivities. 

Esformes ultimately served just four of a 20-year prison sentence after he was granted a commutation on December 22

Esformes ultimately served just four of a 20-year prison sentence after he was granted a commutation on December 22

The wedding was held in the backyard of Esformes's multimillion-dollar Miami Beach home

The wedding was held in the backyard of Esformes's multimillion-dollar Miami Beach home

Esformes's daughter Serena poses with a guest at her wedding

Esformes's daughter Serena poses with a guest at her wedding

On Twitter, Gary Ressler shared a photo of what looked like a gift basket sent by the newlyweds to neighbors as an apology for the loud festivities. Ressler slammed Esformes for hosting such a party despite being convicted of fraud

On Twitter, Gary Ressler shared a photo of what looked like a gift basket sent by the newlyweds to neighbors as an apology for the loud festivities. Ressler slammed Esformes for hosting such a party despite being convicted of fraud

Esformes's daughter Serena's wedding gift registry included luggage and a toaster

Esformes's daughter Serena's wedding gift registry included luggage and a toaster

'Wishing you a happy & healthy 2021! We apologize in advance for any noise from the celebration of our marriage. Xoxo, Drew and Serena,' the couple said in a note along with a champagne gift basket.

The gesture, however, did not sit well with Ressler, who blasted Esformes for hosting such a party and pointed out that the fraudster's home had been 'reroofed and re-landscaped' ahead of his release. 

'This mother******, Philip Esformes stole $1.5BB from [Medicare] couldn't be bothered to mow his lawn for the four years he spent in the prison but, days after a [Trump] pardon, he found the wherewithal to host a grand wedding for his daughter in his backyard tonight!' Ressler tweeted, adding '#CrimePays.'


Federal prosecutor Paul E. Pelletier, who spent years pursuing charges in the case, chimed in slamming the presidential pardon which he said undermined the hard work and duties of public servants.  

'It is an incredible kick in the teeth to the agents and prosecutors who toil away every day under very difficult circumstances to achieve justice and some restitution to the taxpayers from the billions of dollars that has literally been stolen from them,' Pelletier told the Times.  

'If you are going to steal $250 million from Medicare, you are going to jail for 20 years. I have no sympathy for these people. None,' he added, revealing the prosecution had intentionally sought a long sentence to make an example of the fraudster.

In the final weeks of his presidency, Donald Trump issued a slew of pardons and commutations

In the final weeks of his presidency, Donald Trump issued a slew of pardons and commutations

Judith Negron
Dr. Salomon Melgen

Judith Negron (left) who was convicted in a separate case of health care fraud was also granted clemency. Dr. Salomon Melgen (right) who was accused of bilking Medicare out of at least $73million, was pardoned last week

Included in Trump's list of controversial pardons at the time was Judith Negron, who had been convicted in a separate $205million Medicare fraud scam, conspiracy and money laundering.

She had served only eight years of a 35-year sentence at a Florida prison when she was first granted clemency in February after her case was brought to Trump's attention by Kim Kardashian West. 

Trump then commuted the remainder of her term of supervised release in December.  

The president sparked further outrage earlier this month when he granted clemency to another healthcare professional in Florida convicted of fraud.   

Dr. Salomon Melgen was accused of bilking Medicare out of at least $73million by persuading numerous elderly patients to undergo tests and get treatment for diseases they did not actually have.

Eventually, he was put on trial in West Palm Beach federal court. He was convicted in April 2017 on 67 counts, including health care fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying patient records. A judge put Melgen, now 66, in prison for 17 years.

Melgen was released last week as part of 73 pardons and 70 commutations granted by Trump in the final hours of his term.  

A White House statement credited Bob Menendez with supporting clemency for Melgen, who was a donor to Democratic politicians and a longtime friend of the Cuban-American New Jersey senator. 

The statement said clemency for Melgen also was supported by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, and members of Brigade 2506, the Cuban exile group involved in the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

'Numerous patients and friends testify to his generosity in treating all patients, especially those unable to pay or unable to afford healthcare insurance,' the White House statement said.   

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