Bribery charges added to case against SNF owner accused of leading $1 billion fraud ring

An embattled SNF owner who has been accused of leading a $1 billion Medicare fraud ring also allegedly bribed a state regulator to find out when surveyors would be visiting his facilities, according to the Miami Herald.

Philip Esformes was indicted in July for conspiracy, obstruction, money laundering and healthcare fraud in a case federal officials called the “the largest single criminal healthcare fraud case ever brought against individuals.” Esformes allegedly inappropriately billed Medicare and Medicaid for skilled nursing services, and received kickbacks to send patients to mental health and home health providers.

A new charge added earlier this month by the Department of Justice accuses Esformes of bribing an employee of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration in exchange for resident complaints and survey schedules. Esformes would then work to fix issues within the facilities before surveyors arrived, the Herald reported on Monday.

Esformes' attorney maintained that brothers Gabriel and Guillermo Delgado, who helped federal authorities nab Esformes after they landed in hot water themselves, are truly behind the fraud.

“The newest version of the indictment repeats most of what has already been alleged against Mr. Esformes and is based directly on claims made by admitted criminals who in return for lesser sentences have pointed fingers at Mr. Esformes,” said Michael Pasano in a statement to the Herald. “The crimes, lies, obstructive behavior and pure greed of these men is astounding and will come out at the eventual trial. It is Philip Esformes' position that those are crimes by the Delgados and not by him.”

Esformes' trial is slated to begin in September; he is currently being held without bond. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison, as well as having multiple properties seized by the government, the Herald reported.