Trial of Florida health care executive $1B fraud nears end

MIAMI (AP) — The federal trial of a Florida health care executive has wrapped up with closing statements from the prosecution calling the defendant a trickster who couldn’t help himself and his defense arguing he was an ambitious and caring businessman.

Prosecutors accuse 50-year-old Philip Esformes of defrauding Medicare of $1 billion in one of the biggest such cases in U.S. history.

In the seven-week trial, a former University of Pennsylvania basketball coach also testified that he accepted bribes from the Miami businessman to have his son on the team and admitted into the college. Another coach implicated was recently suspended from Auburn University.

Esformes’ attorney, Roy Black, told jurors his client never paid kickbacks to doctors so they would refer patients to his nursing and assisted living facilities.

Jurors begin deliberating Monday.

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