Esformes Reaches Plea Deal in Major Nursing Home Medicare Fraud Scheme

Attorney and Author George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm

On February 1, 2024, the District Court for the Southern District of Florida announced that Florida nursing home mogul Phillip Esformes had reached a plea deal on pending conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud charges.

Esformes, who then owned more than 30 Miami-area nursing and assisted living facilities, was first charged in July 2016 with what the Department of Justice (DOJ) called a $1 billion, decades-long Medicare fraud and money-laundering scheme. Click here to read the DOJ’s press release. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/three-individuals-charged-1-billion-medicare-fraud-and-money-laundering-scheme)

The Fraudulent Health Care Scheme.

The government initially accused The Florida Man of bribing physicians to refer patients to the nursing homes he owned in the Miami area. He would then move the patients to his assisted living facilities once he had charged Medicare for the maximum of 100 days the government pays for skilled nursing services.

In April 2019, a federal jury convicted the nursing home mogul on various counts of paying and receiving kickbacks, money laundering, bribery, and obstruction of justice. The judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $5.5 million in restitution and to forfeit $38.7 million. Click hear to read more. (https://www.thehealthlawfirmblogs.com/the-biggest-healthcare-fraud-case-ever-prosecuted-in-2019-big-surprise-florida-wins/)

However, in December 2020, former President Donald Trump commuted his 20 year prison sentence. The conviction remained, however, and he was ordered to pay the restitution order, which the Eleventh Circuit later affirmed.

The Retrial.

During the initial trial, the jury was deadlocked on six counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The DOJ announced in April 2021 that it would retry Esformes on these counts. He appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that a retrial was barred because it would violate Trump’s clemency order. He also argued that the prosecution’s misconduct in reviewing privileged materials barred the retrial. The Eleventh Circuit denied his appeal of the prosecution misconduct issue and did not rule on the issue of Trump’s clemency order.

He appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States which denied his appeal in December 2023.

A Plea Deal with the District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

On February 1, 2024, the judge assigned to the retrial in the case canceled a scheduled conference because the parties had reached a plea deal. A plea in the case lets the Florida man avoid another lengthy trial — and another potentially harsh prison sentence if he were convicted. The terms of the plea deal have not been made public.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Health Care Fraud and Anti-Kickback Statute Violations.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in cases of medical billing fraud, overbilling, Medicare audits, Anti-Kickback allegations, and False Claims Act cases throughout Florida and across the United States. Our attorneys also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Fla. Nursing Home Mogul Reaches Plea Deal With Feds.” Law360. (1 February 2024) https://www.law360.com/health/articles/1767643?nl_pk=ab1e43aa-534e-4b86-8a5a-6b981ef7c33b&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=health&utm_content=1767643&read_main=1&nlsidx=0&nlaidx=0

Hale, Nathan. “Esformes Told To Pay $44.2M In Massive Health Fraud Case.” Law360. (21 November 2019) https://www.law360.com/articles/1219282

Mangan, Dan. “Trump clemency recipient Philip Esformes reaches plea deal in Medicare fraud case.” CNBC. (1 February 2024) https://www.cnbc.com/2024/02/01/trump-clemency-recipient-philip-esformes-has-medicare-plea-deal.html

Office of Public Affairs. “South Florida Health Care Facility Owner Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Role in Largest Health Care Fraud Scheme Ever Charged by The Department of Justice.” United States Department of Justice. (12 September 2019) https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/south-florida-health-care-facility-owner-sentenced-20-years-prison-role-largest-health-care

About the Authors:

George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.

Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with The Health Law Firm.

The Health Law Firm has its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area, and can be reached at: www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in the practice of health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2024 George F. Indest III, The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any way in any medium without the written permission of the copyright owner. The author of this work reserves the right to have his name associated with any use or publication of this work or any part of it.

Esformes Reaches Plea Deal in Major Nursing Home Medicare Fraud Scheme

Attorney and Author George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm

On February 1, 2024, the District Court for the Southern District of Florida announced that Florida nursing home mogul Phillip Esformes had reached a plea deal on pending conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud charges.

Esformes, who then owned more than 30 Miami-area nursing and assisted living facilities, was first charged in July 2016 with what the Department of Justice (DOJ) called a $1 billion, decades-long Medicare fraud and money-laundering scheme. Click here to read the DOJ’s press release. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/three-individuals-charged-1-billion-medicare-fraud-and-money-laundering-scheme)

The Fraudulent Health Care Scheme.

The government initially accused The Florida Man of bribing physicians to refer patients to the nursing homes he owned in the Miami area. He would then move the patients to his assisted living facilities once he had charged Medicare for the maximum of 100 days the government pays for skilled nursing services.

In April 2019, a federal jury convicted the nursing home mogul on various counts of paying and receiving kickbacks, money laundering, bribery, and obstruction of justice. The judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $5.5 million in restitution and to forfeit $38.7 million. Click hear to read more. (https://www.thehealthlawfirmblogs.com/the-biggest-healthcare-fraud-case-ever-prosecuted-in-2019-big-surprise-florida-wins/)

However, in December 2020, former President Donald Trump commuted his 20 year prison sentence. The conviction remained, however, and he was ordered to pay the restitution order, which the Eleventh Circuit later affirmed.

The Retrial.

During the initial trial, the jury was deadlocked on six counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The DOJ announced in April 2021 that it would retry Esformes on these counts. He appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that a retrial was barred because it would violate Trump’s clemency order. He also argued that the prosecution’s misconduct in reviewing privileged materials barred the retrial. The Eleventh Circuit denied his appeal of the prosecution misconduct issue and did not rule on the issue of Trump’s clemency order.

He appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States which denied his appeal in December 2023.

A Plea Deal with the District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

On February 1, 2024, the judge assigned to the retrial in the case canceled a scheduled conference because the parties had reached a plea deal. A plea in the case lets the Florida man avoid another lengthy trial — and another potentially harsh prison sentence if he were convicted. The terms of the plea deal have not been made public.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Health Care Fraud and Anti-Kickback Statute Violations.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in cases of medical billing fraud, overbilling, Medicare audits, Anti-Kickback allegations, and False Claims Act cases throughout Florida and across the United States. Our attorneys also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Fla. Nursing Home Mogul Reaches Plea Deal With Feds.” Law360. (1 February 2024) https://www.law360.com/health/articles/1767643?nl_pk=ab1e43aa-534e-4b86-8a5a-6b981ef7c33b&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=health&utm_content=1767643&read_main=1&nlsidx=0&nlaidx=0

Hale, Nathan. “Esformes Told To Pay $44.2M In Massive Health Fraud Case.” Law360. (21 November 2019) https://www.law360.com/articles/1219282

Mangan, Dan. “Trump clemency recipient Philip Esformes reaches plea deal in Medicare fraud case.” CNBC. (1 February 2024) https://www.cnbc.com/2024/02/01/trump-clemency-recipient-philip-esformes-has-medicare-plea-deal.html

Office of Public Affairs. “South Florida Health Care Facility Owner Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Role in Largest Health Care Fraud Scheme Ever Charged by The Department of Justice.” United States Department of Justice. (12 September 2019) https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/south-florida-health-care-facility-owner-sentenced-20-years-prison-role-largest-health-care

About the Authors:

George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.

Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with The Health Law Firm.

The Health Law Firm has its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area, and can be reached at: www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in the practice of health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2024 George F. Indest III, The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any way in any medium without the written permission of the copyright owner. The author of this work reserves the right to have his name associated with any use or publication of this work or any part of it.

Esformes Reaches Plea Deal in Major Nursing Home Medicare Fraud Scheme

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm

On February 1, 2024, the District Court for the Southern District of Florida announced that Florida nursing home mogul Phillip Esformes had reached a plea deal on pending conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud charges.

Esformes, who then owned more than 30 Miami-area nursing and assisted living facilities, was first charged in July 2016 with what the Department of Justice (DOJ) called a $1 billion, decades-long Medicare fraud and money-laundering scheme. Click here to read the DOJ’s press release. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/three-individuals-charged-1-billion-medicare-fraud-and-money-laundering-scheme)

The Fraudulent Health Care Scheme.

The government initially accused The Florida Man of bribing physicians to refer patients to the nursing homes he owned in the Miami area. He would then move the patients to his assisted living facilities once he had charged Medicare for the maximum of 100 days the government pays for skilled nursing services.

In April 2019, a federal jury convicted the nursing home mogul on various counts of paying and receiving kickbacks, money laundering, bribery, and obstruction of justice. The judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $5.5 million in restitution and to forfeit $38.7 million. Click hear to read more. (https://www.thehealthlawfirmblogs.com/the-biggest-healthcare-fraud-case-ever-prosecuted-in-2019-big-surprise-florida-wins/)

However, in December 2020, former President Donald Trump commuted his 20 year prison sentence. The conviction remained, however, and he was ordered to pay the restitution order, which the Eleventh Circuit later affirmed.

The Retrial.

During the initial trial, the jury was deadlocked on six counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The DOJ announced in April 2021 that it would retry Esformes on these counts. He appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that a retrial was barred because it would violate Trump’s clemency order. He also argued that the prosecution’s misconduct in reviewing privileged materials barred the retrial. The Eleventh Circuit denied his appeal of the prosecution misconduct issue and did not rule on the issue of Trump’s clemency order.

He appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States which denied his appeal in December 2023.

A Plea Deal with the District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

On February 1, 2024, the judge assigned to the retrial in the case canceled a scheduled conference because the parties had reached a plea deal. A plea in the case lets the Florida man avoid another lengthy trial — and another potentially harsh prison sentence if he were convicted. The terms of the plea deal have not been made public.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Health Care Fraud and Anti-Kickback Statute Violations.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in cases of medical billing fraud, overbilling, Medicare audits, Anti-Kickback allegations, and False Claims Act cases throughout Florida and across the United States. Our attorneys also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Fla. Nursing Home Mogul Reaches Plea Deal With Feds.” Law360. (1 February 2024) https://www.law360.com/health/articles/1767643?nl_pk=ab1e43aa-534e-4b86-8a5a-6b981ef7c33b&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=health&utm_content=1767643&read_main=1&nlsidx=0&nlaidx=0

Hale, Nathan. “Esformes Told To Pay $44.2M In Massive Health Fraud Case.” Law360. (21 November 2019) https://www.law360.com/articles/1219282

Mangan, Dan. “Trump clemency recipient Philip Esformes reaches plea deal in Medicare fraud case.” CNBC. (1 February 2024) https://www.cnbc.com/2024/02/01/trump-clemency-recipient-philip-esformes-has-medicare-plea-deal.html

Office of Public Affairs. “South Florida Health Care Facility Owner Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Role in Largest Health Care Fraud Scheme Ever Charged by The Department of Justice.” United States Department of Justice. (12 September 2019) https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/south-florida-health-care-facility-owner-sentenced-20-years-prison-role-largest-health-care

About the Authors:

George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.

Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with The Health Law Firm.

The Health Law Firm has its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area, and can be reached at: www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in the practice of health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2024 George F. Indest III, The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any way in any medium without the written permission of the copyright owner. The author of this work reserves the right to have his name associated with any use or publication of this work or any part of it.

Florida Pharmacist Gets More Than Six Years in Prison For Role in Compounding Fraud Scheme

Attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 29, 2018, a Florida pharmacist was sentenced to six and a half years in prison and ordered to pay $3.4 million, for her role in a scheme to defraud the government. Marjorie Robinson pled guilty one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud for submitting fraudulent claims to Tricare, Medicare and private insurance programs for compounded creams that were not necessary.

The Fraud Scheme.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Robinson was one of three owners of ASC Pharmacy Inc., a now defunct compounding pharmacy in Miami. Under her direction, the pharmacy made compounded creams that were made to maximize reimbursement from government and private insurance programs, not for patients needs, according to the plea deal. Click here to read the press release from the DOJ.

The other owners were charged separately and have also pled guilty.

This isn’t the first time a Florida pharmacy has defrauded government programs like Tricare, click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar case.

Health Care Fraud Should Not Be Taken Lightly.

We have been consulted by many individuals, both before and after criminal charges were brought for fraud or related offenses. In many cases, those subject to Medicare and Medicaid fraud audits and investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter. Some may even decide not to spend the money required for a highly experienced health attorney to defend them.

Click here to read one of my previous blog posts regarding Medicare and Medicaid audits.

The government is serious about combating health care fraud. It created a Medicare Fraud Strike Force in March of 2007, in an effort to further prevent and eliminate fraud and abuse of government health care programs. False claims are a growing problem in the program, costing the government billions of dollars each year. Accordingly, punishments for defrauding the system can be quite severe.

If you are accused of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, realize that you are in a fight for your life. Your liberty, property/possessions and profession are all at stake. Often it is possible to settle allegations of fraud by agreeing to pay civil monetary penalties and fines. If given such an opportunity, the provider should consider whether it is worth the risk of facing decades in prison. Be prepared to give up whatever you need to in order to avoid a conviction and preserve your liberty.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent pharmacists and healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also defend pharmacists, physicians, pharmacies and medical groups in actions by Tricare, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers to recoup overpayments, obtain civil fines and penalties and take other actions against them. They represent pharmacies and pharmacists in DEA actions and administrative (Order to Show Cause ) hearings, Medicare Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigations, and administrative and civil litigation, physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Fla. Pharmacist Gets 6½ Years For Bogus Claims For Creams.” Law360. (November 29, 2018). Web.

“South Florida pharmacist sentenced to more than six years in prison for role in $3.4 million compounding pharmacy scheme.” MD Linx. (November 30, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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