Exclusives


Nationwide lottery project, like Post’s, finds improbable winnings

Clarance Jones of Lynn, Mass., has won big lottery prizes more than 7,300 times, cashing in $10.8 million. Randal J. Stier of Central Square, N.Y., has won more than 1,400 times for $1.5 million. Rickey Meng of Cleveland has been lucky only 342 times, worth $956,000. How’d they do it? A national investigation by PennLive and four other newspapers including the Boston Globe and Cleveland...
EXCLUSIVE: Baby born during Hurricane Irma found dead in mom’s car

EXCLUSIVE: Baby born during Hurricane Irma found dead in mom’s car

The body of a boy born prematurely during Hurricane Irma was found days later in his mother’s car, according to Florida Department of Children and Families records. At about 9 Thursday night — four days after the delivery — the mother went to St. Mary’s Medical Center because she was bleeding, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and DCF records. Hospital...
Our lost sons of Vietnam: ‘Oh please, make that not be my brother’

Our lost sons of Vietnam: ‘Oh please, make that not be my brother’

It's the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam war. The war that changed us forever. We saw the carnage of a guerilla war nightly on TV. A generation learned not to trust its government. The war to contain communism left 58,220 Americans dead. Palm Beach County lost 76 sons. Here are some of their stories. Most soldiers who were killed were teenagers or in their early 20s. Daniel Bennett was older. The...
EXCLUSIVE: PBSO: Teen driver won’t be criminally charged in girl’s death

EXCLUSIVE: PBSO: Teen driver won’t be criminally charged in girl’s death

A then-17-year-old boy whose pickup slammed into two trees west of Lantana, killing 13-year-old passenger Karenine Saint Louis, will not be criminally charged in the crash, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. The July 9 death of the honor student led her mother to sue the ride-hailing company Lyft, saying it took the girl from her suburban Boynton Beach-area home to the boy’s...
NEW: Owner of nursing home where 8 died linked to Medicare fraud case

NEW: Owner of nursing home where 8 died linked to Medicare fraud case

The hospital co-owned by a Florida doctor whose nursing home was the site of eight deaths last week is linked to the biggest Medicare fraud case ever filed against individuals in U.S. history, court records show. Neither Larkin Community Hospital nor its president, Dr. Jack Michel, is named nor charged in the criminal fraud case filed last year in Miami federal court. But in 2004, in a civil case...
Hurricane Irma: Employees question county shelter staffing policy

Hurricane Irma: Employees question county shelter staffing policy

No on-site training. Little guidance. Long, exhausting hours of work with frightened, confused residents. And, perhaps worst of all, forced separation from family members during a hurricane. Palm Beach County’s requirement that county employees staff evacuation shelters was an unfair, forced burden on employees who were ill-equipped to provide meaningful assistance to the people they were assigned...

POINT OF VIEW: Focus on good news in addiction treatment

Why is patient brokering, in the form of paying a referral, illegal? Because, as a matter of public health policy, we want citizens making their own health care choices, without unreasonable influence or inducement. We want our health care practitioners to endeavor to provide the highest quality of care and service based upon education, experience and earned reputation. If a health care provider can...
Dem candidate Graham says she’d sue Big Pharma over opioid costs

Dem candidate Graham says she’d sue Big Pharma over opioid costs

Democratic candidate Gwen Graham says if she becomes Florida governor she’ll file a lawsuit against pharmaceutical makers to get them to offset the costs of dealing with the opioid crisis. “To me, we need to do with the opioid crisis what (former Gov.) Lawton Chiles did with the tobacco crisis. We need to be holding the pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in addicting so...
POINT OF VIEW: In the wake of Harvey, let’s not forget Heather

POINT OF VIEW: In the wake of Harvey, let’s not forget Heather

The month of August was a study of extremes in American citizenship. Selfless heroics by ordinary Texans stand in stark contrast to the hatred and bigotry on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. The events represent the best and worst of our society. As South Floridians, our hearts ache for those struggling in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Yet, while we bear witness to the horrific weather disaster...

POINT OF VIEW: The only safe way to treat opioid addicts

“I’m detoxing.” This is the sort of news that delights the families of patients who are addicted to heroin. The promise of a seven-day detox solution is seductive. But detoxification is actually extremely dangerous. Nearly every addict who successfully completes a week-long detox program without further treatment relapses, and in a world with increasingly powerful synthetic drugs...
Owner of facility linked to Kenny Chatman gets 14 year-sentence

Owner of facility linked to Kenny Chatman gets 14 year-sentence

The owner of a Broward County-based drug treatment center linked to Kenny Chatman was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to illegally prescribing drugs. Chatman had contracted with Richard Fernando Botero, the owner of Deerfield Medical Center and New Life Treatment Center, to provide treatment for patients at Chatman’s corrupt drug treatment center, Reflections...
Gratitude House: How a business venture doomed a beloved charity for pregnant addicts

Gratitude House: How a business venture doomed a beloved charity for pregnant addicts

Gratitude House, one of the few nonprofit drug treatment centers in the country that welcomed poor, pregnant drug addicts and newborns, closed quickly and quietly in June amid an unprecedented drug epidemic and a staggering surge in the number of babies born addicted to drugs. Residents were told simply that mold had been found in the dormitory, and that they would have to leave. Gratitude House&rsquo...
EXCLUSIVE: PBC State Attorney probes Florida sheriff’s alleged misconduct

EXCLUSIVE: PBC State Attorney probes Florida sheriff’s alleged misconduct

On a Friday morning two years ago, just before sunrise, a 15-year-old girl ambled along a well-worn footpath in the grass on the north side of a sparsely tree-lined stretch of Nobles Road, heading toward her bus stop to get to school. She would later tell Hendry County sheriff’s deputies that she never saw the pickup as it veered into the path directly behind her. It hit her hard enough...
Fight to reopen teen sex case against Jeff Epstein may set precedent

Fight to reopen teen sex case against Jeff Epstein may set precedent

Nearly 10 years after billionaire Jeffrey Epstein signed a plea deal that let him escape federal prosecution on charges of sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls at his Palm Beach mansion, the 64-year-old politically-connected money manager faces the possibility that the agreement could be thrown out. In court papers filed this month, attorneys representing two of the 30 young women prosecutors...
Absentee ballot fraud: Candidates could be breaking the law

Absentee ballot fraud: Candidates could be breaking the law

Buried in the state attorney’s recent memo about voter fraud in a 2016 primary election were a few lines that left political observers scratching their heads: Collecting absentee ballots, it said, is illegal. For years, local campaigns and organizations have gone door to door collecting people’s vote-by-mail ballots to deliver to election headquarters, with the assumption that as long...
Commissioner formerly worked for firm seeking housing authority money

Commissioner formerly worked for firm seeking housing authority money

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard repeated his call Tuesday to give the county some oversight of the county Housing Authority, whose chief executive was fired last month amid allegations of financial mismanagement. Meanwhile, a firm that once employed Bernard is attempting to get nearly $339,000 from the authority for work on an aborted development project in Boynton Beach, records obtained...
Sober Homes Task Force arrest two on patient brokering charges

Sober Homes Task Force arrest two on patient brokering charges

Two more drug treatment center owners were arrested Friday on multiple counts of patient brokering, bringing the total number of people arrested by the State Attorney’s Sober Homes Task Force to 32. Nick Cirio, 38, was arrested on 10 counts of patient brokering, a second-degree felony that carries a $100,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison. Evan Rodriguez, 43, was arrested on 53 counts of...
Melgen sentencing delayed; trouble for Sen. Menendez in N.J. case?

Melgen sentencing delayed; trouble for Sen. Menendez in N.J. case?

A sentencing hearing where Dr. Salomon Melgen faced a possible sentence of 30 years to life in prison was suddenly postponed Thursday, raising speculation that the disgraced Palm Beach County retinal specialist may be cooperating with federal prosecutors in a New Jersey corruption case against his longtime friend, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. Melgen was scheduled to be sentenced today on 67 charges...
Kenny Chatman case: Federal court hearing cancelled pending settlement

Kenny Chatman case: Federal court hearing cancelled pending settlement

A federal court hearing this morning to decide just how many millions Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman will have to pay back to insurance companies he defrauded with his corrupt drug treatment centers has been cancelled, pending a settlement that has not yet been announced. The number could have been eight figures, after Chatman admitted that his phony treatment centers — Reflections in Broward...
What is the program Tiger Woods is entering for first-time DUI offenders?

What is the program Tiger Woods is entering for first-time DUI offenders?

On the Tiger Woods’ case, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said Wednesday he couldn’t discuss pending cases, but he did release information about his office’s First Time DUI Offender Program. HOW IT WORKSIf first time DUI offender meets conditions of entering the program, he or she is required to plead guilty at arraignment to reckless driving. The defendant...
UPDATE: Tiger Woods will enter DUI diversion program, state says

UPDATE: Tiger Woods will enter DUI diversion program, state says

UPDATE, 10:30 a.m.: Tiger Woods’ arraignment on a DUI charge was cancelled early Wednesday morning shortly before it was set to begin, with his attorney and an assistant state attorney indicating the 42-year-old golf great probably will enter a first-time DUI offender program that could leave him with a clear record. RELATED: What the DUI diversion program means Chief Assistant...
Lawmakers get ‘stunning’ primer on Palm Beach County’s opioid crisis

Lawmakers get ‘stunning’ primer on Palm Beach County’s opioid crisis

Florida Senate Appropriations Chairman and potential governor candidate Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, visited hard-hit Palm Beach County on Tuesday to learn about the state’s opioid crisis and said what he heard was “stunning.” At the invitation of County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and state Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, Latvala came to the Lake Worth campus of Palm...
Immigration in the age of Trump: What it means for Palm Beach County

Immigration in the age of Trump: What it means for Palm Beach County

Immigration returned to the forefront of political discourse with the emergence of Donald Trump, who announced his bid for the presidency two years ago by saying he would build a wall between the United States and Mexico, which he accused of sending drugs and rapists into the U.S. That wall has not yet materialized — Congress has so far refused to go along with funding for it — but...
Celebrity justice in Palm Beach County: Tiger Woods not the first

Celebrity justice in Palm Beach County: Tiger Woods not the first

Tiger Woods isn’t the only star who has faced criminal charges in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast in the past several years. Others include: Charge: DUI with injury or property damage. Punishment: One year of probation, nine months’ driver license suspension and six months with an ignition interlock device on his car for six months. Details: Taylor, a Hall of Fame linebacker who...
Getting paid 6 cents an hour? Judge in Chatman case says that’s too low

Getting paid 6 cents an hour? Judge in Chatman case says that’s too low

One of the longest-serving employees at Kenny Chatman’s corrupt drug treatment operation won’t have to pay restitution while she serves her seven-year prison sentence, a federal judge ruled today. Fransesia “Francine” Davis is currently making a measly 12 cents an hour working in a prison cafeteria, with no help from her family to afford basic commissary items. At that rate...
Elections supervisor takes first steps to combat absentee ballot fraud

Elections supervisor takes first steps to combat absentee ballot fraud

Palm Beach County’s elections supervisor is changing the way the office handles absentee ballot request forms after allegations of voter fraud dominated last year’s primary election. No longer will incomplete request forms be accepted, and voters who request absentee ballots on behalf of family members will have to provide their driver’s license number, Elections Supervisor Susan...
Bring in the FBI, candidate says, to get to bottom of absentee fraud

Bring in the FBI, candidate says, to get to bottom of absentee fraud

An outside agency should step in and look into voter fraud in the August 2016 primary election after the State Attorney’s Office found fraud but no suspect, a candidate who raised alarms before the election said this week. Michael Steinger, who played a critical role in triggering the state attorney’s investigation last year when he hired private eyes and filed a complaint alleging fraud...
U.S. House probe of IT staffers hits South Florida representatives

U.S. House probe of IT staffers hits South Florida representatives

The arrest of a Pakistan-bound information technology staffer who worked for U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch and several other House Democrats has heightened cyber security criticism of Wasserman Schultz and brought accusations of Islamophobia from the defendant’s attorney. Imran Awan and at least four other Democratic staffers had their access to the House computer and...
State senator blasts Palm Beach Post, calls reporting “criminal”

State senator blasts Palm Beach Post, calls reporting “criminal”

State Sen. Bobby Powell blasted The Palm Beach Post’s recent report on fraud in the 2016 August primary election Tuesday night, saying the reporting in a Sunday story “should be criminal.” At a public forum, Powell and state Rep. Al Jacquet took aim at The Post and State Attorney’s Office investigators looking into absentee ballot fraud in the primary...
EXCLUSIVE: Voter fraud in Palm Beach County: State attorney finds crimes, but no suspect

EXCLUSIVE: Voter fraud in Palm Beach County: State attorney finds crimes, but no suspect

Detectives with the State Attorney’s Office found clear-cut evidence of voter fraud in last year’s August election, with nearly two dozen people’s signatures forged on requests for absentee ballots. But prosecutors are dropping the case. Why? They can’t find a suspect. In a bizarre 24-page memo, detectives described their efforts to get to the bottom of allegations...
Senate budget chief plans opioid fact-finding in Palm Beach County

Senate budget chief plans opioid fact-finding in Palm Beach County

Florida Senate Appropriations Chairman and potential 2018 gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has scheduled a roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis for Aug. 8 at the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College. Latvala said he’s been urged to hold such a meeting by two Palm Beach County Democrats — state Sen. Kevin Rader, of Delray Beach, and County Commissioner...
Doctor in Kenny Chatman case pleads guilty to health care fraud

Doctor in Kenny Chatman case pleads guilty to health care fraud

Dr. Joaquin Mendez, a former medical director for Kenny Chatman’s notorious Reflections Treatment Center, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison. Mendez, 52, of Miramar, was the last holdout among eight people arrested in a fraudulent multimillion-dollar drug treatment operation run by Chatman. He admitted Friday to being essentially...
The feds’ opioid crackdown involved only one case in Florida. Why?

The feds’ opioid crackdown involved only one case in Florida. Why?

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it the largest opioid-related fraud bust in U.S. history. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the huge fraud crackdown was aimed at stopping opportunists from taking advantage of a “national scourge,” the nation’s killer opioid epidemic. But a huge nationwide sweep of health-care fraud cases announced Thursday inexplicably...
Palm Beach divorce to end 67-year marriage shakes up Worth Ave. empire

Palm Beach divorce to end 67-year marriage shakes up Worth Ave. empire

Beginning with a dream, a typewriter, a Brownie camera and rubber cement, Burt and Lucille Handelsman built a real estate empire that encompasses some of the toniest shops on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, restaurants in Delray Beach, bars in Key West and retail complexes in upstate New York. Then, last year, after 67 years marriage, Lucille, known as “Lovey,” filed for divorce...
Huge health-care fraud sweep: Only 1 addiction treatment case in Fla.

Huge health-care fraud sweep: Only 1 addiction treatment case in Fla.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it the largest opioid-related fraud bust in U.S. history. He said at a news conference how an American dies of an overdose every 11 minutes. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the huge fraud crackdown was aimed at stopping opportunists from taking advantage of a “national scourge,” the nation’s killer opioid epidemic. But...
West Palm Beach drug rehab owners charged with patient brokering

West Palm Beach drug rehab owners charged with patient brokering

The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force have charged the owners of a West Palm Beach treatment center with paying kickbacks to sober home operators for insured addicts, bringing the total number of arrests in Palm Beach County’s corruption crackdown to 30. Jordi Martinez-Garcia, 48, of Palm Beach Gardens and his partner, Mark Johnston, 55, of West Palm Beach were arrested on 62 counts of...
Feds: Delray rehab owner arrested, billed $58 million for urine tests

Feds: Delray rehab owner arrested, billed $58 million for urine tests

Eric Snyder, owner and operator of a Delray Beach drug treatment center and sober home raided by the FBI in December 2014, has been arrested and charged with fraudulently billing insurance companies for $58.2 million over nearly five years, according to court records. Snyder, 30, and Christopher Fuller, 32, described in a 26-page federal complaint as a “junkie hunter” hired by Snyder,...
Doctor in Kenny Chatman case expected to plead guilty

Doctor in Kenny Chatman case expected to plead guilty

The last defendant in Kenny Chatman’s drug treatment fraud scheme is expected to plead guilty, according to a Thursday court filing. Dr. Joaquin Mendez had pleaded not guilty to federal charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. What he will plead guilty to is unknown; a change of plea hearing is scheduled for July 14. Kenneth Chatman walks...
EXCLUSIVE: Dippolito witness, Shihadeh, linked to woman’s drug death

EXCLUSIVE: Dippolito witness, Shihadeh, linked to woman’s drug death

Early one Tuesday in March, a 34-year-old homeless married mother of three lay cold — as still as a mannequin, a witness would later tell police — on the bare chest of a virtual stranger in a borrowed bed inside a $70-a-night motel room. Linda Lavell was dead by the time Boynton Beach police arrived, but the man below her was still breathing. It wasn’t long before detectives...
Sober Home Task Force score: One-fourth already have pleaded guilty

Sober Home Task Force score: One-fourth already have pleaded guilty

In the past eight months, the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force has arrested and charged 28 owners and operators of drug treatment centers and sober homes with buying and selling insured addicts. Already, seven have pleaded guilty. Court records of these cases reveal prosecutors’ strategy: Allow defendants to avoid felony convictions if they agree to expose other bad operators and...
Scott coy, but Dems, GOP already acting like he’ll oppose Nelson in ‘18

Scott coy, but Dems, GOP already acting like he’ll oppose Nelson in ‘18

On Capitol Hill for a day of health care-related meetings and media appearances on Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott snagged some camera time at a marble rotunda frequently used by members of the Senate for live TV shots. Despite the Senatorial trappings, the two-term Republican governor insisted it’s too early to contemplate a potential 2018 run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Many...
County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay honored for efforts to fight opioid epidemic

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay honored for efforts to fight opioid epidemic

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay has been honored by the Florida Association of Counties for her efforts to help communities across the state deal with the opioid epidemic. FAC President Kathy Bryant presents the award to Vice Mayor Melissa McKinlay at the Legislative Awards Luncheon held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on June 28,...
BREAKING: Chatman drug treatment associates owe millions

BREAKING: Chatman drug treatment associates owe millions

Conspirators in Kenny Chatman’s sprawling drug treatment criminal enterprise are on the hook for millions of dollars, with one man expected to pay his share of $5.6 million in restitution. Chatman’s operations had a horrifying human cost but most of the money came from insurers. Family members blame his operations for loved ones’ deadly relapses, and prosecutors told how Chatman...
UPDATE: West Palm Beach sober home owner accused of patient brokering

UPDATE: West Palm Beach sober home owner accused of patient brokering

10:15 a.m. UPDATE: Judge Caroline Shepherd set Jayeshkumar Rameshander Dave’s bond at $10,000 in a brief court hearing Wednesday at the Palm Beach County Jail. He is also required to surrender his passport and cannot practice in the industry until the case is resolved. The State Attorney told Shepherd during the hearing that new evidence was found through a search warrant, which could result...
NEW: Sober-home regulation starts Saturday with new Florida law

NEW: Sober-home regulation starts Saturday with new Florida law

Florida’s burgeoning sober-home industry, fraught with fraud, will soon see oversight, as Gov. Rick Scott signed a sober home cleanup bill into law Monday. The law targets shady marketing practices, including kickbacks and patient brokering, that draw addicts to seemingly unregulated sober homes and treatment facilities throughout the state with the promise of recovery. Palm Beach...
Florida homestead law a ‘debtor’s haven’? Not for Beverly Hills dentist

Florida homestead law a ‘debtor’s haven’? Not for Beverly Hills dentist

Facing a $2.1 million court judgment in California, longtime Los Angeles resident Michael Motamed suddenly got a yen to move to Florida, plunking down $1.5 million for an oceanfront condominium in Palm Beach. But attorneys representing a former UCLA pre-med student who suffered horrific injuries in 2012 when Motamed’s Mercedes plowed into her said there was nothing mysterious about...
BREAKING: Feds explain sweet deal for billionaire sex offender Epstein

BREAKING: Feds explain sweet deal for billionaire sex offender Epstein

Federal prosecutors went on the offensive this month, denying allegations that they bowed to pressure from billionaire Palm Beach resident Jeffrey Epstein and his high-priced lawyers at the expense of dozens of teenage girls he sexually abused. In their first public comment since 2007 — when they negotiated a deal that allowed Epstein to escape federal charges — prosecutors filed...
EXCLUSIVE: Mast vulnerable in DCCC poll, could face Aronberg challenge

EXCLUSIVE: Mast vulnerable in DCCC poll, could face Aronberg challenge

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee won’t say if Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg is the candidate its polling shows leading U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, but an internal memo indicates the DCCC believes recapturing a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 is still a possibility despite losing a high-profile race in Georgia on Tuesday. Aronberg was mentioned...
NEW: Delray treatment center director arrested for patient brokering

NEW: Delray treatment center director arrested for patient brokering

A 50-year-old Boca Raton woman was arrested by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force on Thursday and charged with 35 counts of patient brokering. This is the 27th arrest by the task force since October 2016. Sarah Muhammad was employed at Chapters Recovery, a substance-abuse treatment facility which also did business as Good Futures Recovery in Delray Beach, between 2015 and at least through...
EXCLUSIVE: Newsmax’s Ruddy tells Post basis of Trump-Mueller comment

EXCLUSIVE: Newsmax’s Ruddy tells Post basis of Trump-Mueller comment

West Palm Beach resident and Mar-a-Lago Club member Christopher Ruddy says he doesn’t need a TV appearance to send a message to President Donald Trump. Ruddy, the CEO of Boca Raton-based conservative outlet Newsmax Media, fueled a firestorm of speculation when he told Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour on Monday that Trump was considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller and that doing so would...
Doctor in Kenny Chatman drug treatment case given max sentence

Doctor in Kenny Chatman drug treatment case given max sentence

One of the doctors who oversaw patient care at one of Kenny Chatman’s notorious drug treatment centers was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in federal prison. Dr. Donald Willems, the medical director for Chatman’s Reflections Treatment Center from October 2015 to May 2016, was given the maximum sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. In his plea deal, the...
Doctor charged in Kenny Chatman case caught prescribing opioids

Doctor charged in Kenny Chatman case caught prescribing opioids

Kenneth Chatman walks into Reflections, his treatment center in Margate, in 2015. Federal prosecutors are trying to get a doctor who worked for notorious treatment center operator Kenny Chatman back behind bars after they say he was caught prescribing the opioids Oxycontin and fentanyl to Medicare patients.
EXCLUSIVE: Ex-commish Aaronson lobbies protege on GL Homes Ag Reserve plan

EXCLUSIVE: Ex-commish Aaronson lobbies protege on GL Homes Ag Reserve plan

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger, who has raised the ire of a powerful coalition of residential associations for refusing to oppose a GL Homes plan for more development in the Agricultural Reserve, has been lobbied on the issue by her former boss, Burt Aaronson. Palm Beach County lobbyist registration documents indicate Aaronson, signed on to lobby for GL on May 9. Berger now...
NEW: This Palm Beach County town is now limiting detox centers

NEW: This Palm Beach County town is now limiting detox centers

No detox centers will be allowed to open in Lake Park after officials approved a moratorium this week. The six substance abuse treatment centers in the town licensed by the Department of Children and Families can continue operations but not expand, town Attorney Tom Baird said. Lake Park will not accept applications for new detox or rehab centers. Mayor Michael O’Rourke said the measure equates...
How homeless man’s friends, not the system, helped him

How homeless man’s friends, not the system, helped him

By the time Darryl Henderson found himself sleeping on an elevated concrete loading slab behind a shabby convenience store in this poor, small town at the south end of Lake Okeechobee, he had reached an end. He was homeless and far, far away from what few services are available in Palm Beach County. His right leg amputated just above the knee, Henderson at age 43 could not walk, much less work...
Sober Home Task Force raids West Palm Beach treatment center

Sober Home Task Force raids West Palm Beach treatment center

Wellness Center of Palm Beach is the latest drug treatment center to be raided by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force.  Delray Beach Police Det. Nicole Lucas, a member of the task force, reported the May 30 raid on her Facebook page and asked patients who want to give a statement to send her a private message on Facebook.  No arrests have been made as a result of the raid. READ MORE...
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane gets married at The Floridian

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane gets married at The Floridian

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane — whose team opened The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches earlier this year in West Palm Beach — got married over the Memorial Day weekend to Whitney Wheeler at his Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City.
What new law, rulings mean for Palm Beach County’s 7 on Death Row

What new law, rulings mean for Palm Beach County’s 7 on Death Row

When dozens of law enforcement officers gathered in a Palm Beach County courtroom in March to make sure a convicted West Palm Beach cop killer remained on Death Row, it heralded the beginning of a parade of the county’s most notorious murderers. During the next several months, attorneys representing others who have spent decades on Death Row also will be in circuit court to argue that their...
EXCLUSIVE: How did baby Tayla Aleman starve to death?

EXCLUSIVE: How did baby Tayla Aleman starve to death?

With 10 children, the Aleman family couldn’t be missed on the little Loxahatchee block, nestled among the slash and Australian pines. Dirty, shoeless and hungry, many of the children, ages 2-15, played outside almost daily, no adult around, when others their age were either in school or at daycare. Sometimes they banged on the door of their home, but no one would let them in. Neighbors described...
Drug overdoses among new challenges for hurricane shelters

Drug overdoses among new challenges for hurricane shelters

Nearly 16,000 people in nine counties from Indian River to Miami-Dade evacuated to shelters during Hurricane Matthew, toting typical sleepover accessories — and their own personal demons. Six evacuees who sought refuge at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach overdosed on drugs as the dangerous Category 4 cyclone approached South Florida. In another county, a bus full of teenagers from a residential...
Drug overdoses among new challenges for hurricane shelters

Drug overdoses among new challenges for hurricane shelters

Nearly 16,000 people in nine counties from Indian River to Miami-Dade evacuated to shelters during Hurricane Matthew, toting typical sleepover accessories — and their own personal demons. Six evacuees who sought refuge at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach overdosed on drugs as the dangerous Category 4 cyclone approached South Florida. In another county, a bus full of teenagers from a residential...
BREAKING: Sober home owner, manager accused of patient brokering

BREAKING: Sober home owner, manager accused of patient brokering

The owner and manager of a sober home west of Lake Worth have been charged with taking patient brokering payoffs from a Delray Beach drug treatment center raided last fall, according to records. The county’s Sober Home Task Force charged Zarinah Hargrove, 41, and Angela M. Weathersbee, 38, each with 10 counts. Both were booked Wednesday into the Palm Beach County Jail — Hargrove in the...
GL Homes wants to move giant project from Acreage to Ag Reserve

GL Homes wants to move giant project from Acreage to Ag Reserve

GL Homes wants Palm Beach County to consider a proposal that would allow it to unlock development in the Agricultural Reserve, a south-county farming zone where building is limited by county rules but home sales are lucrative. RELATED: Former commissioner Tony Masilotti rips county in comments on GL Homes plan Instead of moving forward with recently approved plans to build a giant development of 3...
First dose of opioid money favors Central Florida over South Florida

First dose of opioid money favors Central Florida over South Florida

Two weeks after Gov. Rick Scott ordered the Department of Health to declare a state of emergency over the opioid crisis, the promised $27 million in aid is starting to roll out. First priorities: medical treatment for people addicted to heroin or other opioids, and naloxone to reverse overdoses. The Florida Department of Children and Families, the agency charged with overseeing addiction treatment...
Notorious treatment center operator Chatman gets 27 years in prison

Notorious treatment center operator Chatman gets 27 years in prison

Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman was a relatively small drug-treatment provider despite the millions he raked in every year, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafaña said Wednesday. But he was “the most dangerous,” she told U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks, and FBI agents “never worked harder” than the last few months of 2016, as they rushed to put Chatman...
Juror, lawyer confirm: Patrick Swayze widow was holdout in Seth Adams trial

Juror, lawyer confirm: Patrick Swayze widow was holdout in Seth Adams trial

After failing to convince one juror — the widow of actor Patrick Swayze — that Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Custer had no justification for fatally shooting Seth Adams, other members of the panel on Tuesday voiced relief that Adams’ parents will be paid $2.5 million by the sheriff’s office to end the lawsuit. “I felt the family got a little bit...
Woman on Chatman: ‘Men came in and paid him money to rape me.’

Woman on Chatman: ‘Men came in and paid him money to rape me.’

Kenny Chatman kept a 19-year-old woman tied down in a house, where more than 100 men raped her, a woman wrote to U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks on Monday. The corrupt drug treatment center operator, who faces up to life in prison when sentenced today, held her for weeks, until she jumped out of a window and escaped wearing nothing but a T-shirt, according to the letter. “They IV-drugged...
‘Kenny Chatman kidnapped me’: Read one woman’s human trafficking story

‘Kenny Chatman kidnapped me’: Read one woman’s human trafficking story

Corrupt drug treatment operator Kenny Chatman will be sentenced Wednesday, and for the past few weeks, parents and victims have been writing letters to U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks, telling him that they believe Chatman killed their children or furthered their addictions. But perhaps none of the letters is as chilling as one filed with the court Monday, from a woman who says Chatman...
EXCLUSIVE: FAU, Glades are county’s big winners if Scott signs budget

EXCLUSIVE: FAU, Glades are county’s big winners if Scott signs budget

Florida Atlantic University and the Glades are poised to be big winners in Palm Beach County if Gov. Rick Scott signs the state budget legislators have cobbled together. The university’s Honors College could get $1 million for an expansion project. Another $14.5 million could be directed to the university for a new STEM/life sciences building on the Abacoa campus in Jupiter, the replacement...
Will President Trump be used as witness in sex offender Epstein case?

Will President Trump be used as witness in sex offender Epstein case?

President Donald Trump is a shadowy, but ever-present, figure in the never-ending saga of billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Mar-a-Lago, the commander-in-chief’s private-club-turned-southern-White-House in Palm Beach, was the backdrop for Epstein’s introduction to one of his dozens of teenage victims, according to court records. In a short-lived lawsuit that Trump decried as &ldquo...
POST INVESTIGATION: Eagle Arts charter in chaos: Are kids being educated?

POST INVESTIGATION: Eagle Arts charter in chaos: Are kids being educated?

Like hundreds of families before them, Jill Sheffield and her mother walked the halls of Eagle Arts Academy last summer with growing excitement. Touring the sprawling campus, the shy 11-year-old and her mother followed the school’s director across the dance studio’s shiny wood floors, through the guitar-filled music room, and into the gleaming computer lab, listening as he explained...
EXCLUSIVE: State shuts down Tri-Coast Pharmacy in Juno Beach

EXCLUSIVE: State shuts down Tri-Coast Pharmacy in Juno Beach

A Juno Beach compounding pharmacy has been closed after the Florida Department of Health accused it of dispensing dangerously contaminated drugs and then altering documents in a failed attempt to cover its tracks. In a 20-page emergency order, Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip last month suspended a special state permit held by Tri-Coast Pharmacy that allowed it to mix drugs which have...
Sober Home Task Force makes 26th arrest - takes aim at labs

Sober Home Task Force makes 26th arrest - takes aim at labs

After six weeks without an arrest, the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force roared back into action on Thursday, making four arrests in 24 hours and expanding its investigation into business practices of labs that perform costly urine drug tests. The new arrests — plus additional charges against a prior arrestee — bring the total arrests by the task force to 26 and also mark the...
Owner of West Palm Beach sober home accused of patient brokering

Owner of West Palm Beach sober home accused of patient brokering

The owner of two Palm Beach County sober homes where police responded to 28 calls last year — including six overdoses — was arrested on multiple counts of patient brokering on Wednesday. Matthew Anderson, 38, offered free rent to residents of his sober home, Anastasia’s Way, contingent on their attendance at London Treatment Center, according to a police report. Detectives reviewed...
Tax savings for voters means cost cutting for county — or tax hikes

Tax savings for voters means cost cutting for county — or tax hikes

State lawmakers are expected to finalize the budget Monday, but for many officials in Palm Beach County, the most important votes already have been taken. Those were the votes that passed a joint resolution allowing residents to determine if they want to expand the homestead exemption from $50,000 to $75,000 for homes worth $100,000 or more. The state House and Senate passed the resolution, HJR 7105...
Here’s what Florida lawmakers did — and didn’t do — about the heroin crisis

Here’s what Florida lawmakers did — and didn’t do — about the heroin crisis

Florida lawmakers attacked the heroin overdose epidemic this year wherever they could find it — in courtrooms, call-centers, hospitals, sober homes and treatment centers. Unlike recent years, when bills related to addiction and sober homes faced indifference and pious judgment, this year’s legislative session saw bipartisan bills flying through both houses unopposed. Some of the urgency...
Heroin-related deaths skyrocket as Palm Beach County leads state

Heroin-related deaths skyrocket as Palm Beach County leads state

Correction: Because of a data reporter’s error, two comparisons were incorrect in a story Saturday on the skyrocketing number of heroin deaths in Palm Beach County and throughout Florida. County deaths from heroin-related overdoses in a two-year period, not a six-year period, were as great as in 2015. And the average monthly toll of deaths across the entire state was 63, slightly more than reported...
Sober home cleanup bill on path to OK after dangling all week

Sober home cleanup bill on path to OK after dangling all week

A bill that would crack down on shady business practices in the drug-treatment industry is on a path to approval after its fate was up in the air for days. With a heavy dose of local lobbying, the bill to crack down on bad sober homes survived a key calendar call Wednesday to make it to the Senate floor Thursday. It must pass the Senate twice before lawmakers stop hearing bills on Friday. Palm...
‘Finally,’ Scott declares opioid epidemic a public health emergency

‘Finally,’ Scott declares opioid epidemic a public health emergency

Responding to months of public outcry, Gov. Rick Scott declared a public health emergency Wednesday in the fight against the opioid epidemic, a sea change in what had been a hands-off approach by state officials to a crisis that has killed thousands. “Finally,” said Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Melissa McKinlay, who in February sent the first of nearly a dozen local requests for an emergency...
Door remains open to Florida declaration of opioid health crisis

Door remains open to Florida declaration of opioid health crisis

Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip said Tuesday she has not ruled out declaring a public health emergency for the opioid epidemic. At the same time, officials announced the state would be getting a two-year, $54 million federal grant to attack the opioid crisis. At least $17 million would go toward medication-assisted treatment, such as methadone and Suboxone, which curb addicts’ cravings...
Strippers and crime: What brought police to Palm Beach County clubs?

Strippers and crime: What brought police to Palm Beach County clubs?

Booze. Strippers. And men. It’s a combination that loosens wallets and lights up law enforcement switchboards. There were 309 calls for service at the 14 adult businesses in unincorporated Palm Beach County from Nov. 11 through March 11, according to public records provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Some of those calls were generated by deputies making their rounds and...