Philip Esformes has been sitting in the Miami Federal Detention Center since his July 22 arrest on charges of Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and federal prosecutors intend to keep him there as he awaits trial.
Esformes, who along with his father, Morris Esformes, owns the Lincolnwood, Illinois-based Esformes Network of nursing homes, is the central figure in what federal authorities say is an unprecedented $1 billion scheme of bribes and kickbacks that bilked Medicare and Medicaid over the course of 14 years.
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At a news conference announcing the charges against Esformes and alleged co-conspirators, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said it was “the largest single criminal health care fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice.”
The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that Esformes has been denied bond despite a slew of court pleas that include letters of support from nursing home patients. The unusual denial of bond to a defendant in a fraud case may reflect the magnitude of the charges.
According to the Tribune, the new federal indictment alleges that Philip Esformes and a handful of Miami co-conspirators defrauded Medicaid and Medicare by running 14,000 patients through various Esformes Network facilities, where many were given unnecessary or even harmful treatments. The indictment further alleges that drug addicts were lured in with promises of narcotics and that some received OxyContin and fentanyl without a physician’s order so that they would stay in Esformes Network facilities.
To cover up the illegal admissions and treatment, prosecutors allege, Philip Esformes directed bribes and kickbacks to health care regulators and medical professionals.
In pre-trial motions, Esformes asked to be released under restrictions including 24-hour monitoring by a staff of off-duty police paid at his expense, limited visitation and no internet or cellphones, the Tribune reported. Last week, however, District Judge Joan A. Lenard issued a final ruling ordering Esformes held without bond after prosecutors argued he might attempt to flee or obstruct justice upon release from jail.