Philip Esformes acquired a $1.6 million Ferrari and a $360,000 Swiss watch and traveled around the U.S. on a private jet, a spending spree from what federal prosecutors called one of the largest Medicare fraud cases in history. “Philip Esformes is a man driven by almost unbounded greed,” said FBI agent Denise Stemen after Esformes, 52, a nursing home operator, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the two-decade scheme involving $1.3 billion in fraudulent claims. President Donald Trump commuted Esformes’ sentence this month. His rapid path to clemency is a study in how criminals with the right connections and resources have been able to make their case to the Trump White House, reports the New York Times. Esformes got support from the Aleph Institute, a Jewish humanitarian group that advances prisoners’ rights and worked with the White House on criminal justice, including clemency and legislation overhauling sentencing laws that was backed by Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law.
Esformes’ family donated $65,000 to Aleph over several years after his indictment. His family’s name adorns a Chicago school associated with the Chabad-Lubavitch group of Hasidic Jews, whose leader was involved in creating the Aleph Institute in the early 1980s. His father is a rabbi in Florida. His family has donated to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, to which Kushner has longstanding ties. Alan Dershowitz, a longtime supporter of clemency who works with Aleph, said the group “played a significant role” in Esformes’s clemency and “put together the papers” for the petition. Aleph has helped advance at least five of the 24 commutations handed down by Trump, including the recipient of the president’s first commutation, issued in 2017 to Sholom Rubashkin, the chief executive of a kosher meat processing company who was convicted in 2009 on fraud charges, and three commutations announced last Wednesday.