'Notorious' healthcare exec charged in $1B fraud plan now accused of bribery

In addition to conspiracy, obstruction, money laundering and healthcare fraud, Philip Esformes now faces charges of bribery.

He’s been charged with helping to orchestrate one of the biggest healthcare fraud schemes to date, and now Philip Esformes is in even more hot water. The Justice Department has added bribery to charges of conspiracy, obstruction, money laundering and healthcare fraud.

Esformes, who made FierceHealthcare’s list of most notorious healthcare executives in 2016, was the owner of Esformes Network, a chain of more than 30 skilled nursing and assisted-living facilities in Miami, Florida. Since July 2016 he’s been behind bars at the Miami Federal Detention Center while he awaits trial in federal court on charges that he and his two conspirators stole $1 billion through an elaborate kickback scheme that funneled patients between various Miami healthcare facilities.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell called the scheme “ruthlessly efficient,” with conspirators using a network of corrupt providers to shuffle patients between various healthcare facilities while exchanging kickbacks disguised in various sham agreements.

But this month the Miami Herald reports that the Justice Department added a new charge to the list, accusing Esformes of giving thousands of dollars to a state Agency for Health Care Administration employee in exchange for patient complaints and inspection schedules so he could fix the problems prior to the inspections.

Michael Pasano,  Esformes’ defense attorney. told the newspaper that his client is innocent and  the latest charge repeats many of the other allegations and is based on claims made by “admitted criminals who in return for lesser sentences have pointed fingers at Mr. Esformes.”

If convicted, the newspaper reports Esformes could face life in prison and the Justice Department could seize his two homes and numerous other properties he allegedly purchased with the Medicare money he obtained illegally.