Man Who Bribed His Son Into UPenn Found Guilty Of "Largest Healthcare Fraud Ever"

It may be the case that all those parents who bribed to get their children into select prestigious universities, may not have had the highest ethical standards when it comes to other avenues in life.

On Friday, Philip Esformes, a 50-year-old Miami Beach resident was convicted of running a massive 18 year, $1.3 billion healthcare fraud that prosecutors called "the largest such scheme ever charged" by the DOJ, according to Bloomberg. The kicker? Esformes used proceeds from his fraud to bribe the University of Pennsylvania's basketball coach into helping get his son into the school.

Esformes used a network of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in South Florida to defraud U.S. government health-care programs, while at the same time providing inadequate and unnecessary care to patients, according to prosecutors. He funneled out at least $37 million between 1998 and 2016, using the money to finance a lifestyle that included fancy cars and a $360,000 watch.

The University of Penn's basketball coach plead guilty to money laundering last year in connection with the case.

Esformes is said to have bribed doctors to admit patients to his facilities, where they didn't get appropriate care and sometimes received unnecessary services, which Esformes then billed the U.S. government for. He also bribed a Florida regulator to get advance notice of surprise inspections of company facilities ahead of time. The sum of his fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare and Medicaid exceeded $1.3 billion.

Esformes and his South Florida tan

A jury found him guilty on 20 counts in U.S. district court in the Southern District of Florida. He was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, receiving kickbacks, money laundering and conspiracy to commit bribery. Two co-conspirators also pleaded guilty and Esformes has yet to be sentenced. 

Over 4,000 Medicare fraud cases have been charged since 2007 by federal investigators and more than $700 billion, or 17% of federal spending, went through Medicare in 2017. Of that $700 billion, about $48 billion was deemed by the GAO to be improper: payments that shouldn't have been made at all or payments made in the wrong amount. 

The inclusion of Penn's basketball coach in this case shines a light on a University that previously had not been mentioned as part of the large, ongoing college admissions scandal currently in the news. We have been following the admissions scandal at length. We recently wrote about how financial speaking gigs and elite high schools helped facilitate the scam for years. 

As a result of the scandal, UCLA's Men's Soccer Coach and former U.S. Men's national team player Jorge Salcedo recently resigned from his position at the university. We also wrote about how students were being encouraged to fake learning disabilities in order to cheat on college entrance exams. 

We also profiled one Harvard test-taking "whiz" that was responsible for helping students at the center of the scandal get high scores on admissions tests. Prior to that, we reported on the tipster who gave the SEC the lead on the admissions scandal. He was in the midst of being investigated for a pump and dump scam at the time. 

We reported last month that the universities involved were facing class action lawsuits from their students. Additionally, we reported on major tax implications that could be waiting for the parents involved - including potential civil tax fraud penalties and interest charges on any bribe amounts they wrote off. 

Finally, after the scandal was reported, we unveiled that William Rick Singer was the man who brokered and facilitated many of the bribes.  Our original take on the entire scandal can be read here.