Jon Michael Harder in his 2012 arrest photo (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office).
Jon Michael Harder in his 2012 arrest photo (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office).

Jon Michael Harder, the former CEO of Sunwest Management convicted of defrauding assisted living community investors of millions of dollars, had his sentence commuted in a last-minute move by now-former President Trump.

He was one of 70 people who had a sentence commuted on Wednesday, when 73 pardons additionally were granted. Harder joins former assisted living and skilled nursing facility owner Philip Esformes as well as Judith Negron, the former co-owner of Miami-based American Therapeutic Corp. who was sentenced for paying bribes and kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities and others, in having their healthcare fraud sentences commuted by Trump.

“Mr. Harder fully accepted responsibility, pled guilty, and cooperated with the government’s civil and criminal actions against him at great personal cost,” the Wednesday announcement from the White House reads. “President Trump commends Mr. Harder for choosing to put his employees, investors and the senior citizens residing in Sunwest’s homes above himself.”

The announcement also contained a statement from now-retired U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael Hogan, who oversaw Sunwest’s bankruptcy and receivership. In it, Hogan praised Harder’s “full cooperation against his substantial financial and penal interests,” which helped secure the sale of the company’s assets, “ensuring that Sunwest’s investors recovered more of their investment, seniors could continue living in their facilities, and employees could retain their livelihoods.”

Ford Elsaesser, who served as counsel to Sunwest’s creditors in receivership, also was quoted as stating that “of all the financial wrongdoers that [the court and the government] dealt with during the real estate crash of 2008, Mr. Harder acted more responsibly than any of his peers.” 

Harder already had served five years of a 15-year sentence for what the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of Oregon called the largest investor fraud prosecution in the state’s history. He was originally indicted in 2012 on 56 counties of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and other charges. The government accused him of defrauding more than 1,000 investors out of $130 million in a Ponzi scheme.

Harder pleaded guilty in 2015 to one felony count of mail fraud and one felony count of money laundering. He admitted to lying to more than 50 investors to obtain more than $5 million from late 2007 through February 2008.

His sentence, which he began serving in 2016, included three years of supervised release and restitution to his victims.

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