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Donald Trump commutes West Palm Beach eye doctor's prison term

Dr. Salomon Melgen convicted of Medicare fraud
Posted at 10:14 PM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 23:58:18-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Dr. Salomon Melgen had served almost four of his 17-year prison term when President Donald Trump commuted his sentence.

"It's not unusual for presidents to issue a lot of pardons at the end of their presidency because controversial pardons can blowback on a president," Florida Atlantic University political science professor Kevin Wagner said.

He said many of Trump's pardons will be seen as controversial.

In the case of Melgen, his West Palm Beach medical office was raided by FBI agents in 2013.

Melgen was convicted of Medicare fraud in 2018.

Prosecutors said Melgen falsified records, billing the federal government for unnecessary treatments and surgeries of elderly patients.

Melgen's appeals attorney released a statement on the commutation.

"President Trump's actions end a serious miscarriage of justice," the statement said, in part.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump disembark from final flight on Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport, Jan. 20, 2021
Former President Donald Trump and Melania Trump disembark from their final flight on Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Trump bypassed the commutations of Melgen and others when he made his last-minute decisions.

"He was pretty much offering pardons based on who approaches him and what he thinks of the petition," Wagner said.

It's unclear who approached the former president on Melgen's behalf.

Melgen was politically connected as he hosted fundraisers for several candidates at his home in North Palm Beach.

Melgen is expected to return to that home when he is released from federal prison this week.

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