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Fri Dec 25, 2020, 08:10 AM

Behind Trump Clemency, a Case Study in Special Access

Philip Esformes acquired a $1.6 million Ferrari and a $360,000 Swiss watch and traveled around the United States on a private jet, a spending spree fueled by the spoils from what federal prosecutors called one of the largest Medicare fraud cases in history.

“Philip Esformes is a man driven by almost unbounded greed,” Denise M. Stemen, an agent in the F.B.I.’s Miami field office, said last year after Mr. Esformes, 52, a nursing home operator, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the two-decade scheme that involved an estimated $1.3 billion worth of fraudulent claims.

That prison term ended suddenly this week, when President Trump commuted what remained of Mr. Esformes’s sentence.

His rapid path to clemency is a case study in how criminals with the right connections and resources have been able to cut through normal channels and gain the opportunity to make their case straight to the Trump White House.

For Mr. Esformes, that involved support from a Jewish humanitarian nonprofit group that advances prisoners’ rights and worked with the White House on criminal justice issues, including clemency and legislation overhauling sentencing laws that was championed by Mr. Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and adviser.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/24/us/politics/trump-pardon-clemency-access.html

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