Philip Esformes, the parent who bribed a former basketball coach to help ensure his son's admission to Penn, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a $1 billion Medicare fraud scheme.
Esformes wept and apologized on Thursday before a Miami federal judge announced the verdict to what the United States Department of Justice called "one of the largest single health care bribery" cases in U.S. history, according to The Chicago Tribune.
In his trial for Medicare fraud, it was revealed that Esformes bribed former Penn men’s basketball star and coach Jerome Allen so that his son, a 2019 Wharton graduate, would gain admission to Penn as a basketball recruit. Allen testified in Miami federal court earlier this March that he had received $300,000 from the Miami Beach executive to recruit his son. Prosecutors said the $300,000 came from stolen Medicare and Medicaid proceeds, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Esformes operated over 24 health care facilities in America which bribed medical professionals to refer patients to his Florida facilities. This scheme garnered $1.3 billion Medicaid revenues, The Chicago Tribune reported.
“People who needed care, people who wanted to get better, they had no shot,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Allan Medina told The Washington Post. “The nature of the fraud, the conspiracy, the money-laundering scheme, was atrocious.”
A month after Allen's testimony, Esformes was found guilty on 20 charges, including health care kickbacks, bribery conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, according to The Washington Post.
Esformes apologized for his actions in a tearful 16-minute speech, according to The Washington Post. The Chicago Tribune reported Esformes began to recite his children’s names and briefly became incoherent.
“I’ve lost everything I love and cared about with the utmost intensity," Esformes said, according to The Chicago Tribune. "There is no one to blame but myself, me.”
The Chicago Tribune reported Judge Robert N. Scola significantly reduced the requested punishment of 30 years in prison by prosecutors. Scola said Esformes “should get some consideration for his philanthropy,” as Esformes’ attorneys said he donated more than $15 million to synagogues, schools, and needy individuals.
In July, FBI agents seized the iPhone Esformes used to text Richard Singer, the college consultant at the center of the admissions scandal, in 2016 while investigating Esformes for healthcare fraud, the Los Angeles Times reported. Esformes has not been charged in the college admissions case. Federal authorities later discovered Esformes paid Singer to help his oldest child gain admission to the University of Southern California and fix his third child's college entrance exam scores, according to the LA Times.
Penn was not implicated in the national scandal which charged 50 people for taking part in a bribery scam to get prospective students into elite schools.
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