Former assisted living and skilled nursing facility owner Philip Esformes may have had his 20-year prison sentence for his role in “the largest healthcare fraud scheme charged by the U.S. Justice Department” commuted, but he is still appealing $43 million in financial penalties stemming from his conviction.
Esformes was one of 20 individuals granted full pardons or sentence commutations by President Trump on Dec. 22. As McKnight’s Senior Living previously reported, the commutation leaves intact other aspects of his sentence in the $1 billion Medicare fraud case, including supervised release and restitution.
Esformes still owes approximately $5 million in restitution and must forfeit $38 million. His attorney is fighting to dismiss these penalties, which were not part of the clemency order, according to a Law.com article. The appeal cites the government’s inability to convict Esformes on its main claim of healthcare fraud and the “inability to show a single instance of fraudulent billing.”
Esformes has been appealing the September 2019 sentence after being found guilty in April 2019 of more than 20 charges of money laundering, paying and receiving kickbacks, bribery and obstruction of justice. An amicus brief filed in September 2020 on his behalf by former U.S. Department of Justice officials seeks to have the indictment that led to his conviction dismissed with prejudice (permanently).
Esformes reached settlements with the government on two civil cases, including one in which he was accused of committing fraud at the same assisted living and nursing facilities that were central to the criminal case, according to a Los Angeles Times article.
Co-defendant’s compassionate release motion denied
Meanwhile, Esformes co-defendant Arnaldo Carmouze’s motion for compassionate release again was denied last month following news of Esformes’ commutation. Carmouze, a physician’s assistant who pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme, cited the development of diabetic neuropathy in his leg and his completion of the residential drug abuse program as reasons for his release request.
In denying the release, U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. noted that Carmouze has served less than half of his sentence and “already received a benefit of an earlier release based on his completing the RDAP program.” The court also ruled that his health condition was not life threatening.