Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A holiday miracle (UPDATED 12/24)

President Trump commuted Phillip Esformes' 20 year sentence today:

Philip Esformes – Today, President Trump commuted the term of imprisonment of Philip Esformes, while leaving the remaining aspects of his sentence, including supervised release and restitution, intact. This commutation is supported by former Attorneys General Edwin Meese and Michael Mukasey, as well as former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson. In addition, former Attorneys General Edwin Meese, John Ashcroft, and Alberto Gonzalez, as well as other notable legal figures such as Ken Starr, have filed in support of his appeal challenging his conviction on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct related to violating attorney-client privilege.

While in prison, Mr. Esformes, who is 52, has been devoted to prayer and repentance and is in declining health.

Fascinating. Some open questions -- does the appeal continue because he is still on supervised release? Does this apply to the hung count as well or is that still alive? In any event, this is HUGE news in a case that the government touted at the time as the largest health care fraud case in history and one in which he was serving a 20 year sentence.   

12/24 UPDATE -- Trump issued more pardons, including for Mary McCarty, Cesar Lozada, and James Batmasian.  From the press release:

Mary McCarty — President Trump granted Mary McCarty a full pardon. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Christopher Ruddy are among those supportive of Ms. McCarty. Ms. McCarty was a longtime public servant in Palm Beach, Florida, serving as one of its County Commissioners. In 2009, she pled guilty to one count of honest services fraud. The Supreme Court has since interpreted that statute more narrowly, meaning that Ms. McCarty’s conduct might not be criminally prosecuted today.

Cesar Lozada — President Trump granted a full pardon to Cesar Lozada. This act of clemency is supported by U.S. Representative-elect Maria Elvira Salazar and members of Mr. Lozada’s community. Mr. Lozada, an immigrant from Cuba, started a small business cleaning and servicing pools in Miami-Dade County. Since then, his business, now a pool equipment company, has grown and employs dozens of people. Today’s pardon addresses a mistake Mr. Lozada made in 2004 of conspiring to distribute marijuana, for which Mr. Lozada took full responsibility, served his sentence of 14 months in prison and 3 years supervised release, and paid a $10,000 fine. Mr. Lozada volunteers on weekends at a charity mission and serves food to the poor.

James Batmasian — President Trump granted a full pardon to James Batmasian. Mr. Batmasian’s pardon is supported by Representative Brian Mast, Alice Johnson, and former Masters Champion Bernhard Langer, among many others from the South Florida community that Mr. Batmasian has done so much to serve through his extensive charitable works.

Mr. Batmasian runs an extensive property management business in South Florida. Over a three-year period from 2001 to 2003, Mr. Batmasian made overtime payments without withholding for income taxes or FICA contributions. While illegal, Mr. Batmasian recorded all of these payments and made no attempt to hide them when confronted by IRS investigators. In 2008, Mr. Batmasian pled guilty to willful failure to collect and remit payroll taxes. Mr. Batmasian accepted full responsibility for his actions, fully repaid the IRS the money he owed, and served his 8-month sentence.


Anonymous said...

No miracle. A disgrace.

Paul Petruzzi said...

From henceforth, I’m devoting myself to prayer and repentance.

Anonymous said...

Otazo-Reyes vindicated!

Anonymous said...

Great lawyering!

Fake Ted Kaczynski said...

Me too!

Fake Bernie Madoff said...

I got next.

Fake Scott Rothstien said...

Hey....I still have some money left. How about me too!!! And, I could defend all of those pesky sex claims if you make it a full pardon.

Anonymous said...

A commutation doesn't disturb the conviction so the appeal is still ripe. Often people "admit" in a commutation petition. Don't know if his did. It would be interesting if he gets a new trial whether DOJ can introduce the petition.

I wonder how he got all those AGs to support him?

Anonymous said...

Scola really railroaded the Magistrate on those misconduct findings.
One of many stains on the office yet to be resolved.

Anonymous said...

The quote below is HILARIOUS!

I love when "former" prosecutors like Ben spout off and show their stripes. Boo, hoo, hoo. How about the rank prosecutorial misconduct that infects the federal system, where judges shrug and thus encourage and facilitate the continued degradation of the criminal justice system by teaching prosecutors that breaking the law and lying to the court and hiding evidence, have no consequences?

As far as a "thoughtful, apolitical process," surely Ben does not refer to DOJ's office of pardon attorney, which slow walks petitions and sets up arbitrary bars, hoops, and hurdles to diminish the President's unfettered power to commute and pardon. I mean let's be intellectually honest, shall we? The notion that DOJ, which lies and cheats to obtain indictments and convictions, is capable of a "thoughtful, apolitical process" in assessing commutation petitions, is silly.

"The government" loses. It's that simple.

“In a perfect world, a commutation would be the result of a thoughtful, apolitical process intended to offset a grave injustice,” said former federal prosecutor Ben Curtis, who has tried dozens of Medicare fraud cases in Miami and across the country. “Did that happen here? Seeing this decision today and knowing the history of healthcare fraud in South Florida, it’s tough not to become cynical about the justice system.”

Some people should never leave their government prosecutor job.

Anonymous said...

Happy Festivus!

Anonymous said...

One of these is not like the other...btw, these are the official press releases from the executive:

"Paul Manafort—Today, President Trump has issued a full and complete pardon to Paul Manafort, stemming from convictions prosecuted in the course of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, which was premised on the Russian collusion hoax. Mr. Manafort has already spent two years in prison, including a stretch of time in solitary confinement – treatment worse than what many of the most violent criminals receive. As a result of blatant prosecutorial overreach, Mr. Manafort has endured years of unfair treatment and is one of the most prominent victims of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American history. As Mr. Manafort’s trial judge observed, prior to the Special Counsel investigation, Mr. Manafort had led an “otherwise blameless life.” Since May, Mr. Manafort has been released to home confinement as a result of COVID-19 concerns.

Roger Stone— Today, President Trump granted a full and unconditional pardon to Roger Stone, Jr. President Trump had previously commuted Mr. Stone’s sentence in July of this year. Mr. Stone is a 68-year-old man with numerous medical conditions. Due to prosecutorial misconduct by Special Counsel Mueller’s team, Mr. Stone was treated very unfairly. He was subjected to a pre-dawn raid of his home, which the media conveniently captured on camera. Mr. Stone also faced potential political bias at his jury trial. Pardoning him will help to right the injustices he faced at the hands of the Mueller investigation.

Mark Shapiro and Irving Stitsky — President Trump granted commutations to Mark Shapiro and Irving Stitsky, for the remainder of both of their sentences. Messrs. Shapiro and Stitsky founded a real estate investing firm, but hid their prior felony convictions and used a straw CEO. Due to the 2008 financial crisis, the business lost millions for its investors.

Prior to trial, prosecutors offered Messrs. Shapiro and Stitsky plea agreements for 5 to 7 years and 7 to 9 years, respectively. Both declined the deal and exercised their Constitutional right to a jury trial. Both men were found guilty and sentenced to 85 years imprisonment. This sentence was over 10 times the plea offer for Mr. Shapiro and almost 10 times the plea offer for Mr. Stitsky. Messrs. Shapiro and Stitsky have already served more time than their plea offers.

Since their incarceration, both men have become model prisoners, earning support and praise from their fellow inmates. Mr. Shapiro has renewed his faith in Judaism and taught fellow inmates the dangers of dishonesty, while Mr. Stitsky has reflected on the victims of his crime and the remorse that he now has.

This clemency is supported by the Aleph Institute, Alice Johnson, several criminal justice advocacy groups, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, former District Judge William Bassler, former United States Attorneys Brett Tolman and James Reynolds, Professors of Law Bennett Gershman and Harold Krent, and several of the victims."