Opening statements set in $1B Florida Medicare fraud case

MIAMI (AP) — Opening statements are set in the trial of a Florida health care executive accused of defrauding Medicare out of $1 billion, one of the biggest such cases in U.S. history.

An expected eight-week trial begins Tuesday for 50-year-old Philip Esformes, who operated a network of 30 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida. Prosecutors say Esformes and other conspirators referred thousands of Medicare patients to their facilities even if they didn’t qualify for services.

Esformes is also accused of accepting kickbacks for steering Medicare patients to other health care providers, which then billed the government program for unnecessary services.

Esformes has pleaded not guilty and has been jailed since his 2016 arrest. Two others involved in the scheme have pleaded guilty.

Esformes faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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