Exclusives


Social Security plans percolating: Deutch says up tax on higher income

With Social Security facing solvency problems in less than 20 years, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, has reintroduced his bill to extend the life of the program by hitting higher-income earners with a payroll tax increase. Don’t expect Deutch’s plan to get anywhere in the Republican-controlled House. His similar bill in the last Congress never got a hearing, and the chairman of the...
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...
Sober home certification: Nonprofit could again lose money to do it

Sober home certification: Nonprofit could again lose money to do it

Certifying sober homes was one of the top proposals for cleaning up the state’s fraud-ridden drug treatment industry, thePalm Beach County State Attorney’s Task Force concluded last year. But for a second year in a row, the organization that does the certifying statewide could see its financing gutted by lawmakers. In February, the Florida Association for Recovery Residences asked the...
Top clinician for notorious treatment center gets 5 years in prison

Top clinician for notorious treatment center gets 5 years in prison

A former clinical director at the notorious drug rehab center run by Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman was sentenced Wednesday to four years and nine months in federal prison. Barry Gregory was responsible for overseeing treatment plans at Chatman’s Reflections Treatment Center in Margate. But he largely turned a blind eye to problems there; he admitted in February to signing orders...
Statecraft & controversy: A fifth of Trump’s first 100 days in Florida

Statecraft & controversy: A fifth of Trump’s first 100 days in Florida

President Donald Trump has put a distinctive Florida stamp on his first 100 days in office by making seven trips to his Mar-a-Lago estate that have mixed golf, statecraft and controversy. Trump has spent more time on presidential getaways than Barack Obama did in his first 100 days but not as much time away from Washington as George W. Bush did at the beginning of his presidency. Much...
Sentences handed down for 3 associates of drug treatment owner Chatman

Sentences handed down for 3 associates of drug treatment owner Chatman

Jaime Holley once wrote a Mother’s Day card that’s now part of the federal criminal case against notorious drug treatment center operator Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman. “The only thing better than having you as a mom is my children will have you as Grandma,” Jaime Holley wrote, drawing hearts throughout. Holley’s family blames Chatman and his associates for the...
Jailhouse snitch gets sentencing reprieve until December

Jailhouse snitch gets sentencing reprieve until December

Notorious jailhouse snitch Frederick Cobia on Friday won yet another reprieve — five years after he admitted to pistol-whipping and then fatally shooting a 57-year-old Belle Glade man in 2009. Once planning to seek the death penalty against Cobia for the murder of Desmond Dunkley, state prosecutors in 2012 allowed the career criminal to plead guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. In exchange...
Cleared of drug charges, pharmacist switches career — to the law

Cleared of drug charges, pharmacist switches career — to the law

Roughly three years ago, Peter Del Toro was facing 295 years in prison. Today, the 44-year-old Jensen Beach father of two is shopping for office space to open a law practice. “Technically, I’m not supposed to be here. I’m supposed to be dead. Well, I’m supposed to be in prison and that’s being dead,” Del Toro said of the drastic turn his life has taken since February...
Trump administration’s policy change undercuts county puppy-sales law

Trump administration’s policy change undercuts county puppy-sales law

A Trump Administration policy change and complaints tied to a pet store in Royal Palm Beach have led to a renewed call for Palm Beach County to reconsider its policy of allowing existing pet stores to sell puppies and kittens. The County Commission passed a rule last year barring new pet stores from selling puppies and kittens in an effort to kill the profit motive at so-called pet mills, where critics...
Heroin epidemic: As deaths rise, program a ‘glimmer of hope’ for life

Heroin epidemic: As deaths rise, program a ‘glimmer of hope’ for life

Six weeks ago, Shawn Walker was shooting heroin at least once a day, feeding a two-year addiction that he supported by pawning and selling whatever he stole from family and stores. “Heroin was my girlfriend. It was my everything,” he said. “I was in a messed up, co-dependent relationship with that drug.” Now, the Lake Worth man has been clean since March 13. He works in construction...
EXCLUSIVE: Details of 6 Chinese protesters charged during President Xi visit

EXCLUSIVE: Details of 6 Chinese protesters charged during President Xi visit

At least three of the six people charged with trying to block motorcades last week during China’s president’s visit to Palm Beach County claim that Chinese government entities stole their land, according to a Washington, D.C.-based Chinese human rights group. “Initiatives for China” office director Daniel Gong said from Washington that he accompanied four of the protesters...
Using Palm Beach County bed tax to pay for Trump security dead for now

Using Palm Beach County bed tax to pay for Trump security dead for now

An idea to use Palm Beach County “bed tax” money to help pay for security and roadway management during President Donald Trump’s visits to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach is dead for now. On March 19, County Commissioner Steven Abrams asked whether money from the tourist development tax, the 6 percent tax on hotel and motel stays, could help defray costs of Trump’s frequent...
Governor’s opioid workshop in Palm Beach County set for May 1

Governor’s opioid workshop in Palm Beach County set for May 1

Palm Beach County will be the first of four counties visited by state officials next month in their plan to seek ideas for combating the opioid crisis. Palm Beach County’s “community workshop” is set for May 1, according to an email from the Department of children and Families. It will be held from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the West Palm Beach Police headquarters, 600 Banyan Blvd....
Tiger attack: Zookeeper’s parents want ‘honest truth’ of why it happened

Tiger attack: Zookeeper’s parents want ‘honest truth’ of why it happened

Donning decorative cat ears, Stacey Konwiser spoke on video to The Palm Beach Post on the importance of Global Tiger Day in July 2015, explaining the breeding program for big cats at the Palm Beach Zoo. Behind her, looking majestic — even suave resting on some rocks — is a 350-pound Malayan tiger named Hati. This animal would be her killer. A year after Konwiser’s death by a neck...
Opioid overdose deaths double to nearly 600: ‘I don’t see any stop’

Opioid overdose deaths double to nearly 600: ‘I don’t see any stop’

Every 15 hours last year, someone died of an opioid overdose in Palm Beach County, nearly double the rate of murders and fatal car crashes. The 590 opioid overdose deaths in 2016, an all-time high for the county, are nearly twice as many as the year before, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of records from the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office. “That’s just a phenomenal...
Aronberg wants to speak with Scott about opioid emergency

Aronberg wants to speak with Scott about opioid emergency

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg has joined a growing list of officials trying to get Gov. Rick Scott to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency. Aronberg, as head of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force, sent a letter on Thursday to Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department, asking her to contact the state surgeon general to arrange a meeting...
Three national contests honor Palm Beach Post’s heroin coverage

Three national contests honor Palm Beach Post’s heroin coverage

The Palm Beach Post’s 2016 reporting on the community’s heroin crisis was honored this month with three national awards, including recognition for the ethical struggle involved in publishing the faces and stories of those who died from the epidemic. “The Palm Beach Post brought the issue home in stunning detail,” wrote the judges for the Association of Health Care Journalists...
COMMENTARY: Security tight inside Mar-a-Lago as U.S. missiles hit Syria

COMMENTARY: Security tight inside Mar-a-Lago as U.S. missiles hit Syria

PALM BEACH — For the members of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club lucky enough to score reservations, Thursday’s dinner was different from previous Prime Rib Nights. For starters, the club was almost entirely shut down except for a handful of tables on the terrace and an early-wrap veterans benefit downstairs. And there was no prime rib. But there were two presidents...
EXCLUSIVE: Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano running Delray addiction-treatment center in offseason

EXCLUSIVE: Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano running Delray addiction-treatment center in offseason

Anthony Fasano’s life was about to change that day a relative failed to show for a high school game he was supposed to coach. Rather than realize the personal, long-term ramifications of what was unfolding, all Fasano cared about over the next couple of days was finding his relative and sorting out whatever was wrong. Drugs, that’s what was wrong. Fasano, like many, knew little about addiction...
Jupiter Farms foes of Slater wave pool cite Austin wave park problems

Jupiter Farms foes of Slater wave pool cite Austin wave park problems

Surfing legend Kelly Slater himself could ride the waves at his proposed surfing ranch in northwestern Palm Beach County, and many in Jupiter Farms still wouldn’t be impressed. They have urged the county not to move ahead with plans to allow the wave pool to be built at the Palm Beach Park of Commerce, citing the travails of a similar facility in Austin, Texas. That Austin pool opened with a...
Palm Beach County considers czar, spending $1 million in opioid fight

Palm Beach County considers czar, spending $1 million in opioid fight

Palm Beach County commissioners will consider a variety of options next Tuesday to combat the rampaging opioid epidemic, including the hiring of a senior-level administrative staffer, creating two new positions with the Medical Examiner’s Office and pouring $1 million into a range of treatment programs. Those options are among the recommendations of a 72-page report outlining the scope of the...
Judge asks governor for opioids help: ‘It’s just the right thing to do’

Judge asks governor for opioids help: ‘It’s just the right thing to do’

As Palm Beach County’s chief circuit judge, Jeffrey Colbath has had a courtroom view of the opioid epidemic’s toll on society during the past few years. He also is aware that local leaders have pleaded to Gov. Rick Scott for help to curb the crisis, only to be ignored. That’s why Colbath decided to write his own letter to Scott, asking the governor to declare a public-health emergency...
Doctor who worked at notorious treatment center pleads guilty

Doctor who worked at notorious treatment center pleads guilty

One of the three doctors accused of helping notorious drug treatment operator Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman commit millions of dollars in fraud pleaded guilty Thursday. Dr. Donald Willems, who was out on bond until he was caught last week prescribing drugs to himself, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He could spend up to 10 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled...
EXCLUSIVE: Dad wants Cash Me Outside girl out of Hollywood, in therapy

EXCLUSIVE: Dad wants Cash Me Outside girl out of Hollywood, in therapy

Around this time a year ago, Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy Ira Peskowitz stood in a greeting card aisle, fingers trembling as he fumbled through rows of pink and purple birthday wishes to find something pretty for a little girl with eyes like his. Months before the six words she uttered on a Dr. Phil episode propelled her to internet infamy, Danielle Peskowitz Bregoli reluctantly...
UPDATE: Ex-PBSO deputy bonds out of jail on patient-brokering charges

UPDATE: Ex-PBSO deputy bonds out of jail on patient-brokering charges

A former Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy arrested Tuesday on patient-brokering charges has been released from the county jail. West Palm Beach police say Robert “Bobby” Simeone, 46, posted $45,000 bond late Tuesday, hours after his arrest. He is accused of paying two sober home owners hundreds of dollars a week to send their residents last year to his center, Epiphany’s...
Former deputy, state House candidate faces patient brokering charges

Former deputy, state House candidate faces patient brokering charges

A former Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy who left to open a West Palm Beach drug treatment center was arrested Tuesday on 15 counts of patient brokering. Robert “Bobby” Simeone, 46, owner of Epiphany’s Treatment Center and an unsuccessful 2016 candidate for state House, was the latest person arrested by the State Attorney’s Sober Home Task Force, which now ...
Did Sheriff Ric Bradshaw mislead ethics investigator?

Did Sheriff Ric Bradshaw mislead ethics investigator?

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and his chief deputy appear to have misled a state ethics investigator looking into whether they used their position to go after political enemies, the investigator’s findings and sheriff’s records show. Both Bradshaw and Chief Deputy Michael Gauger told the investigator, under oath, that they had never instructed an investigator to go after political...
Sober home owner Kenny Chatman pleads guilty, faces life in prison

Sober home owner Kenny Chatman pleads guilty, faces life in prison

Notorious drug treatment center owner Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracies to commit money laundering, health care fraud and sex trafficking, charges that could land him in prison for life. Handcuffed and shackled, Chatman listened as a federal prosecutor told how he turned patients into prostitutes: He gave them drugs to induce them. He pimped them on the websites...
Owner of notorious drug treatment center pleads guilty today

Owner of notorious drug treatment center pleads guilty today

Drug treatment center owner Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to recruit persons into sexual acts, a charge that could send him to prison for life.
2 candidates among 500 who got ‘no cutoff’ status from water utility

2 candidates among 500 who got ‘no cutoff’ status from water utility

The city’s utilities department has a special code it places on accounts where a life-safety issue exists to prevent staff from turning off the water if the account holder doesn’t pay the bill. More than a year ago, after utilities director Colin Groff ordered a routine audit of all accounts to make sure they were recorded properly in the department’s financial system, the staff...
Doctor in Chatman case caught working for drug treatment center

Doctor in Chatman case caught working for drug treatment center

Dr. Donald Willems, one of two doctors charged with insurance fraud at notorious drug treatment programs operated by Kenneth Chatman, was re-arrested on Friday and accused of violating the conditions of his bond. According to court records unsealed Friday afternoon, Willems continued working for a drug treatment facility, wrote prescriptions without a license and had contact with witnesses &mdash...
How The Post got the absentee ballot story

How The Post got the absentee ballot story

Spurred by unusually high vote-by-mail turnouts in south county neighborhoods in both the March and August elections in 2016, Palm Beach Post reporters went door to door and talked to dozens of voters to find out why. Many residents could not say whom they voted for. They said they were directed how to vote by candidates and campaign workers, who casually came into their homes and were fixtures in...
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