A Case Study of Fraudster’s Getting Trump Clemency

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Philip Esformes acquired a $1.6 million Ferrari and a $360,000 Swiss watch and traveled around the U.S. on a private jet, a spending spree from what federal prosecutors called one of the largest Medicare fraud cases in history. “Philip Esformes is a man driven by almost unbounded greed,” said FBI agent Denise Stemen after Esformes, 52, a nursing home operator, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the two-decade scheme involving $1.3 billion in fraudulent claims. President Donald Trump commuted Esformes’ sentence this month. His rapid path to clemency is a study in how criminals with the right connections and resources have been able to make their case to the Trump White House, reports the New York Times. Esformes got support from the Aleph Institute, a Jewish humanitarian group that advances prisoners’ rights and worked with the White House on criminal justice, including clemency and legislation overhauling sentencing laws that was backed by Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law.

Esformes’ family donated $65,000 to Aleph over several years after his indictment. His family’s name adorns a Chicago school associated with the Chabad-Lubavitch group of Hasidic Jews, whose leader was involved in creating the Aleph Institute in the early 1980s. His father is a rabbi in Florida. His family has donated to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, to which Kushner has longstanding ties. Alan Dershowitz, a longtime supporter of clemency who works with Aleph, said the group “played a significant role” in Esformes’s clemency and “put together the papers” for the petition. Aleph has helped advance at least five of the 24 commutations handed down by Trump, including the recipient of the president’s first commutation, issued in 2017 to Sholom Rubashkin, the chief executive of a kosher meat processing company who was convicted in 2009 on fraud charges, and three commutations announced last Wednesday.

One thought on “A Case Study of Fraudster’s Getting Trump Clemency

  1. What is stated is accurate. However, it is important to note that the commutation, explicitly, provided that the $ 44 million in restitution component of the sentence remains, which, incidentally, is secured by assets of Esformes which have been frozen by the Court and, it is my belief, virtually secure the entirety of the aforesaid restitution component of the sentence – again, my belief, inasmuch as the figure of assets frozen has not been published on the internet, though the assets of Esformes include high end real estate in Miami Beach, as well as the Ferrari, as well as the watch and, given Miami Beach real estate prices, my feeling is that the restitution component off the sentence is, if not entirely, almost completely secured – and, too, that the commutation provided that post-release supervision of Esformes, the length of same determined by the sentence, which, at this point, I have not pulled in from Pacer, remains in effect.

    The foregoing does not detract from the fact that the incarceration component of the sentence for Esformes was commuted, but it does mitigate, somewhat, the effect thereof, especially, given that Esformes, though first convicted in 2019 – late 2019, I believe – actually had been incarcerated, continuously, since his arrest in 2016 – May, 2016, I believe, though I may be wrong on the month – and, thus, had been incarcerated for, based on a May, 2016 arrest date – again, the arrest was, with certainty, sometime in 2016 – four plus years at the time of the commutation – four plus years is significant – it’s not the twenty years of the original sentence of incarceration – actually, seventeen with time off for good behavior – but, it’s still significant. Separately, Esformes has an appeal pending, as of this time. In the event the appeal, which seeks a new trial, is granted, Esformes will be retried. If convicted once again, Esformes will be subject to whatever sentence the Court would impose at that time and the existing commutation of sentence would have no effect thereon – food for thought for his attorneys, who may very well decide, based on the foregoing, to withdraw the aforesaid pending appeal. Notwithstanding all of the foregoing, Esformes had a “hung jury” on the Health Care fraud count and, as such, can be retried on that count, irrespective of the pending appeal. If retried thereon and convicted, the instant commutation would have no effect on the sentence therefor. If I were Esformes, I wouldn’t be sleeping too easily at this point, given all of the foregoing !

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