But then, in a shocking blow to prosecutors, Trump commuted Esformes’ sentence in late 2020, allowing him to leave prison after serving 4 1/2 years behind bars, including his time in detention before trial. His conviction and fines remained intact.
Still, infuriated federal prosecutors vowed to retry Esformes on the six hung counts from his first trial — but now the question looms: Will they?
The hearing now scheduled for Dec. 4 before Scola might provide a clue. According to the court filing, the judge is scheduled yet again to specify a date for Esformes’ retrial on the hung counts, which Trump’s commutation never addressed, if a plea deal doesn’t resolve the long-running case.
The Justice Department, which has jointly run the case with prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami, declined to comment about its strategy. Esformes’ defense attorneys, led by Mark Bini with the law firm Reed Smith in New York and Miami, did not respond to a request for comment.
Background on the Esformes case
Even by the standards of Miami’s rampant Medicare rackets, Esformes’ case has stuck out for its sheer size. Before his assets were frozen after his arrest in July 2016, the Chicago transplant owned dozens of local health care businesses that, along with other associates, billed $1 billion to Medicare and Medicaid over a decade. Esformes, who went through a messy divorce, also acquired pricey real estate in Miami Beach and drove a Ferrari sports car. In addition, he used some of his ill-gotten Medicare proceeds to pay for prostitutes, five-star hotel stays and other personal expenses, according to court records.
Esformes, who had been detained without a bond after his arrest in July 2016, went to trial alone because two key conspirators — a physician’s assistant and a former Larkin Hospital administrator who recycled patients for cash — had pleaded guilty. Several other health care associates charged with Medicare fraud in related cases had also pleaded guilty and cooperated with federal prosecutors, including some who testified against him.
At trial, convicted health care operators, the former hospital administrator and an ex-Ivy League basketball coach testified that Esformes paid them and various doctors hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to buy and sell patients. The former Penn coach, Jerome Allen, now an NBA assistant coach, testified that Esformes’ illicit payments enabled his son to be accepted to the University of Pennsylvania by reserving a spot for him on the basketball team. The son never played a game, though he ended up graduating from Penn.
Trial evidence showed that Esformes himself made $38 million from Medicare and Medicaid payments between 2010 and 2016.
The verdict and sentencing
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