Alleged elder abuse coincides with $1 billion Medicare fraud case

Assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell called it the “largest single criminal health care fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice.” Over a billion dollars-worth of kickbacks, bribes and fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid charges were allegedly orchestrated by Philip Esformes, who owns dozens of retirement facilities throughout Illinois, Florida and Missouri.  The unprecedented, comprehensive scheme has landed Esformes, well-known in his area of influence for his wealth and philanthropy, in custody while awaiting trial on charges of fraud, corruption and obstruction of justice. Esformes is facing life in prison for these charges.

The charges have led various newspapers to investigate, and The Chicago Tribune recently uncovered that retirement facilities belonging to Esformes have been the subject of 20 wrongful death suits since just 2013. Three of the cases, as described by the Tribune, involve gross negligence that allowed two elderly residents to wander off to their deaths outside the facility (one by drowning, another hit by a vehicle).  In another horrifying case, a 73-year-old, terminally-ill and bedridden patient was beaten to death by his 41-year-old roommate who had a history of violent episodes and was revealed to not be taking his prescribed antipsychotic medication. It was alleged that after the perpetrator was found with his hands bloodied, he was left unattended to walk to a smoking patio, putting other residents in immediate danger.

These cases are separate from the overarching fraud accusations, which involve allegedly cycling about 14,000 patients over 14 years through various nursing homes. Some of these patients were given addicting narcotics without a prescription to keep them in the system. Some patients were used as a means to order expensive treatments they did not need to game more money out of the Medicare system.  Attorneys for Esformes and attorneys representing his retirement facilities have denied any wrongdoing, but it isn’t looking good for the wealthy retirement home magnate. The Department of Justice worked with one of Esformes’s co-conspirators to wear a wire in a conversation where Esformes talked about defrauding the federal government and ways to flee the country. This 200-page transcript was used recently by the Department of Justice to deny Esformes from posting bail before his trial, scheduled for February.

Don’t let your elderly loved ones be taken advantage of

This incredibly troubling, almost-unbelievable and ongoing case shows how somebody can appear to be philanthropic and trying to provide an invaluable service to thousands of elderly people while the reality is much less straightforward.  There are thousands of elderly care facilities across Massachusetts, and most of them do amazing work caring for senior citizens that are unable to care for themselves. However it is an unfortunate reality that this is not universally true. Due to the amount of elderly that require care in proportion to the amount of people willing to work in the industry, neglect and, in some unfortunate cases, abuse happens every day.

Abuse and neglect can take many forms, including leaving elderly patients unattended for hours at a time, overmedicating, verbal abuse and unnecessary use of physical force or restraints. It is not always easy to pinpoint who exactly is at fault if an elderly loved one is abused or neglected, but the legal experts at Altman & Altman LLP are well-versed in navigating nursing home lawsuits.

We will not rest until we have identified the source of the neglect and brought them to justice, while ensuring that you and your elderly loved ones receive the compensation they are entitled to for their pain and suffering. Call us for a free consultation today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.

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