Exclusives


Famed lawyer F. Lee Bailey still fighting to clear O.J. Simpson’s name

Sitting at the head of a massive wooden table in a lawyer’s conference room, famed attorney F. Lee Bailey portrays himself as a doctor trying to cure the nation of its 23-year-old plague of O.J. Simpson-loathing. “I get them to listen in groups, but I think the inoculation wears off after a while,” the former West Palm Beach lawyer and Manalapan resident says with...
Post reporters win anti-fraud coalition’s award for sober home coverage

Post reporters win anti-fraud coalition’s award for sober home coverage

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a Washington-based policy and research group, awarded its inaugural journalism award for fraud reporting to The Palm Beach Post for its work on fraud in the sober-home industry. Post investigative reporters Pat Beall and Christine Stapleton accepted the award Tuesday at the coalition’s annual meeting in Washington. The coalition praised The Post’s...
In #MeToo moment, ‘not me’ defense works uniquely for President Trump

In #MeToo moment, ‘not me’ defense works uniquely for President Trump

They have fallen, one after another, like great trees in the face of some powerful wind. Movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Actor Kevin Spacey. NBC broadcaster Matt Lauer. Talk show host Charlie Rose. Michigan congressman John Conyers. U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota. And on Tuesday, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. Each of those powerful men – and a long and growing list...
NEW: Boca mayor ends business relationship with developer amid controversy

NEW: Boca mayor ends business relationship with developer amid controversy

BOCA RATON — Mayor Susan Haynie announced Tuesday that her husband has ended a controversial business relationship with major developer James Batmasian that was detailed in a Palm Beach Post investigation last month.  “I truly believe I’ve always held myself in the highest standards of ethical behavior ... Hopefully that will put this matter to rest,” Haynie said...
State Attorney Dave Aronberg testifies before House panel on opioids

State Attorney Dave Aronberg testifies before House panel on opioids

The congressional representatives sitting on the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations wanted to hear about patient brokering and sober home fraud. Tuesday morning, they got an earful from Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and his chief assistant, Al Johnson. “We have had a surge of unscrupulous individuals who prey on addicts,” said Aronberg. &ldquo...
Study: Racism, sexism in hiring firms at Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority?

Study: Racism, sexism in hiring firms at Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority?

Firms owned by white men got the overwhelming share of money awarded by the Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority for contract work from 2009 through 2013, a disparity study conducted for the authority shows. The 284-page study, conducted by Mason Tillman Associates of California and delivered to the SWA in March, has confirmed the suspicions of some minority business owners who have long complained...
Day after Manafort bond supposedly set, Mueller wants to reconsider

Day after Manafort bond supposedly set, Mueller wants to reconsider

New information has a top federal prosecutor reconsidering his support for a proposed bail bond for former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, which could involve Manafort’s Palm Beach Gardens home. Robert Mueller’s Office of Special Counsel had supported Manafort’s bond motion Thursday, but asked a judge on Friday for several days to reevaluate. The government wants...
Boca mayor won’t seek opinion guiding future votes on developer

Boca mayor won’t seek opinion guiding future votes on developer

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie said Tuesday night that she will not seek a new ethics opinion on whether she should vote on proposals brought before the council by developer James Batmasian, with whom she has financial ties, which were detailed in a Palm Beach Post investigation this month. That leaves any votes Haynie takes on Batmasian proposals in the future in question. Will she recuse herself...
Ethics panel begins probe of Boca Raton mayor’s potential conflict

Ethics panel begins probe of Boca Raton mayor’s potential conflict

The county ethics body that gave Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie the go-ahead in 2013 to vote on projects involving developer James Batmasian apparently has launched an investigation after a Palm Beach Post story detailed financial ties between Haynie and Batmasian. Commission on Ethics Executive Director Mark Bannon says he is prevented by county rules from confirming whether such a probe is taking...
Palm Beach County sends $1 million, 100 tons of goods to Maria victims

Palm Beach County sends $1 million, 100 tons of goods to Maria victims

Palm Beach County Cares, a coalition of local aid groups, has delivered more than 200,000 pounds of goods to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were both devastated by Hurricane Maria in September. “We had intended to close up the effort on November 12 but were approached by a group with close to 600,000 pounds in the Florida area which they have been trying to get shipped to Puerto...
Boynton doctor practiced for 7 months after drug arrest, 4 OD deaths

Boynton doctor practiced for 7 months after drug arrest, 4 OD deaths

Eighteen months ago, Boynton Beach Dr. Peter Katz took in an ex-patient — a homeless opioid addict. She overdosed in his home, dying later in the hospital. She was the fourth patient of his to die of an overdose in a two-year period, state health department documents show. Law enforcement caught up with Katz about eight months ago, charging him with unlawful prescribing of an opioid after Katz...
Boca to ask for probe of mayor’s voting controversy. But has one begun?

Boca to ask for probe of mayor’s voting controversy. But has one begun?

At the tail end of a six-hour meeting, a combative city council decided Tuesday to formally ask whether Mayor Susan Haynie has misinterpreted an ethics opinion for years, voting on projects proposed by controversial developer James Batmasian despite her financial ties to him. The council decided, with Haynie’s support, to go back to the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics, which issued an...
Watch: Official calls for ‘independent review’ of Boca mayor’s voting controversy

Watch: Official calls for ‘independent review’ of Boca mayor’s voting controversy

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie made some brief comments and answered just a few questionsduring robust discussion by city council members of the controversy over Haynie voting on proposals brought to the city council by the largest commercial property owner sin the city, James and Martin Batmasian.   “I welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue,” she said.  Haynie, a...
Boca mayor’s relationship with developer to be aired at public meeting

Boca mayor’s relationship with developer to be aired at public meeting

In a remarkable turn of events, Boca Raton leaders plan Monday to publicly confront allegations reported by The Palm Beach Post that Mayor Susan Haynie hid financial ties with the largest commercial landowner in the city. In a town torn by hostile factions, a councilwoman aligned with Haynie’s opponents put the issue on the agenda when council members meet at 1:30 p.m. Haynie, urged by allies...
Doctor in Kenny Chatman case gets 4-year prison sentence

Doctor in Kenny Chatman case gets 4-year prison sentence

The last holdout in the notorious Kenny Chatman drug-treatment fraud case was sentenced Tuesday to four years in federal prison, short of the time prosecutors sought. Dr. Joaquin Mendez was the medical director for Chatman’s Reflections Treatment Center in Margate between September 2014 and September 2015, responsible for seeing patients and deciding their medical care. But he admitted...
Jeff Clemens: Sex scandal snuffs out Democrat’s political career

Jeff Clemens: Sex scandal snuffs out Democrat’s political career

Jeff Clemens had established himself as a policy expert, an incisive debater and a pro at all of the campaign fine points whose mastery leads to victory on Election Day. His own wall included some choice political pelts — Pete Brandenburg, Mack Bernard and Irv Slosberg, men whose talent, connections or wealth made them formidable opponents who, nonetheless, were defeated by Clemens on his rise...
EXCLUSIVE: Big Dog Ranch changes mind, will hold event at Mar-a-Lago

EXCLUSIVE: Big Dog Ranch changes mind, will hold event at Mar-a-Lago

Two months after publicly announcing it was pulling its main fundraiser from Mar-a-Lago, Big Dog Ranch Rescue has done an about face, revealing it will in fact hold its annual luncheon at President Donald Trump ’s Palm Beach private club as originally planned. Trump Palm Beach: Mar-a-Lago, Breakers ready for season like no other In August, Big...
Chatman drops appeal in sex trafficking, drug treatment fraud case

Chatman drops appeal in sex trafficking, drug treatment fraud case

Kenny Chatman, who trafficked women through his chain of corrupt sober homes and drug treatment centers, is no longer fighting his 27-year federal prison sentence. In court documents filed this month, his lawyer dropped his appeal, meaning Chatman likely will serve out the entirety of his sentence. He’ll be 74 when he’s released. Although Chatman forfeited the right to appeal his...
No water or power? No problem for addicts using drugs in treatment

No water or power? No problem for addicts using drugs in treatment

Addicts living in sober homes operated by Bradley Vercosa complained that sometimes there was no running water, electricity, sheets, bowls or pillows but they stayed anyway because they paid no rent and were allowed to use drugs, according to a police report. Vercosa, 50, of Wellington, was one of six people arrested Thursday and charged with patient brokering, which includes accepting referral...
GL Homes mounts email campaign for its Ag Reserve development plan

GL Homes mounts email campaign for its Ag Reserve development plan

Palm Beach County commissioners are getting an earful — actually, an email in-box full — from backers of a controversial GL Homes development plan. The developer has asked county residents to let county commissioners know they support the builder’s plan to preserve 4,900 acres in The Acreage/Loxahatchee area in exchange for a rule change that would allow it to build more on land...
UPDATE: Sober home task force arrests six; total now tops 40

UPDATE: Sober home task force arrests six; total now tops 40

The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force arrested six sober home operators on patient brokering charges Thursday, including one who once worked for the Florida Association of Recovery Residences — the state contracted non-profit that certifies sober homes. All of the arrests are byproducts of cases filed earlier this year against the owners of treatment centers accused of paying sober...
Corey Jones family mourns, officer who killed him prepares for trial

Corey Jones family mourns, officer who killed him prepares for trial

Two years ago today, 31-year-old Corey Jones lost his life in a deadly roadside confrontation with a Palm Beach Gardens police officer in plain clothes — a case that prosecutors are hoping could bring a rare criminal conviction for an officer involved in an on-duty killing. But as Jones’ family and supporters spend the day remembering the beloved drummer and planning weekend events to...
Palm Beach Dr. Marder to give up medical license to resolve fraud case

Palm Beach Dr. Marder to give up medical license to resolve fraud case

A Palm Beach dermatologist will give up his medical license as part of a plea deal to resolve obstruction and health-care fraud charges, his attorney and a federal prosecutor said Wednesday. Appearing before U.S. Magistrate James Hopkins, Dr. Gary Marder pleaded not guilty to the charges. To remain free while his attorney, Richard Lubin, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Cohen put the final...
EXCLUSIVE: Brightline train derailed in Feb., causing $408K in damage

EXCLUSIVE: Brightline train derailed in Feb., causing $408K in damage

A Brightline train derailed in February as it moved through the company’s rail repair yard in West Palm Beach at a speed of 4 miles per hour, causing $408,000 in equipment damage, according to an accident report filed with the Federal Railroad Administration. A Florida East Coast locomotive was leading All Aboard Florida’s Brightline train into the company’s maintenance...
Medical society joins fight against opioid epidemic in PBC

Medical society joins fight against opioid epidemic in PBC

After an unprecedented 590 opioid-related deaths in Palm Beach County in 2016, Palm Beach County doctors are joining the battle as a group against the opioid epidemic. The Palm Beach County Medical Society Services, a nonprofit that coordinates education and volunteer activities of the county Medical Society, held its first meeting this week to begin working on a medical plan to prevent overdose...
Caloosa couple get $1.3 million in son’s death, still want law changed

Caloosa couple get $1.3 million in son’s death, still want law changed

Two years after their 29-year-old son was killed while bicycling home on PGA Boulevard, Raul and Susan Lozano have reached a $1.3 million settlement with an Acreage man who escaped criminal charges by saying he thought he had hit a wild hog. But the money the Lozanos got from George Meada’s insurer to settle their civil lawsuit isn’t enough, said attorney Ryan Fogg, who represents the...
Jupiter woman’s previous rape claim delays Uber driver’s rape trial

Jupiter woman’s previous rape claim delays Uber driver’s rape trial

A previous rape allegation made in New York by the Jupiter woman who claims a 57-year-old Uber driver raped her in Palm Beach County in May has rocked the local case. A trial was supposed to begin in Palm Beach County Circuit Court this month for Gary Kitchings, a foster home worker who was moonlighting as an Uber driver when he was arrested after a woman said he sexually assaulted her as he drove...
Bills seek pain prescription limits and help for addicted babies

Bills seek pain prescription limits and help for addicted babies

A bipartisan effort to combat the opioid epidemic is underway in Tallahassee with lawmakers having filed five bills that address the crisis from multiple fronts. Prescriptions - SB 458, filed by Sen. Aaron Beach, R-Jacksonville, would limit opioid prescriptions for temporary pain. The bill would allow a 30-day renewal of an opioid prescription after the initial seven-day prescription. The bill...
Feds charge Palm Beach dermatologist Marder with health care fraud

Feds charge Palm Beach dermatologist Marder with health care fraud

A Palm Beach dermatologist, who in February paid the U.S. government $5.2 million to settle its claims that he “massively overbilled” Medicare, has been charged with health care fraud by federal prosecutors. Dr. Gary Marder, who lives in Palm Beach and operates Allergy Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center in Port St. Lucie and Okeechobee, is to appear in U.S. District Court on Oct. 18 to...
West Palm lawyer takes on Scientology in unprecedented arbitration

West Palm lawyer takes on Scientology in unprecedented arbitration

When West Palm Beach attorney Ted Babbitt travels to Los Angeles this month to take on the Church of Scientology, he said that for the first time in his 52 years of practicing law he has no idea what to expect. The veteran lawyer said he’s been told he won’t be allowed to call witnesses to shore up his claims that the church duped an Irvine, Calif. couple out of $465,000 to fund...
Epstein paid three women $5.5 million to end underage-sex lawsuits

Epstein paid three women $5.5 million to end underage-sex lawsuits

Ending years of speculation about how much Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein paid young women who claimed he used them as sex toys, court documents filed last week show he shelled out $5.5 million to settle lawsuits with three of more than two dozen teens who sued him. Responding to requests from Epstein’s attorneys in a complex lawsuit that was spawned by the sex scandal, attorney Bradley...
Should Florida use fentanyl to execute Death Row inmates?

Should Florida use fentanyl to execute Death Row inmates?

The deadliest drug in the nation’s opioid epidemic — fentanyl — will be used to execute a death row inmate in Nevada in November. Barring a court order halting the execution, it will be the first time the deadly painkiller will be used in an execution and will be one of three drugs used to execute Scott Raymond Dozier, 46. Dozier was sentenced to death for killing a 22-year-old man...
Possible plea deal in the works for Delray Beach sober home operator Eric Snyder

Possible plea deal in the works for Delray Beach sober home operator Eric Snyder

A preliminary hearing in federal court  for   Eric Snyder, owner and operator of a Delray Beach drug treatment center and sober home raided by the FBI in December 2014, has been delayed for 30 days to give attorneys time to “consider whether or not a pre-indictment resolution” can be worked out. Snyder was arrested on July 11 and charged with fraudulently...
UPDATE: Judge orders no bond for Jupiter sober-home stabbing suspect

UPDATE: Judge orders no bond for Jupiter sober-home stabbing suspect

A Greenacres man arrested this week in connection to stabbings at a sober home housed in a Jupiter townhouse is being held without bond at the Palm Beach County Jail. Ruben Torres made his first appearance in court Thursday morning after being released from Jupiter Medical Center. A judge ordered that Torres, 44, be held without bond on two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. See who&rsquo...
Sober home trafficker Kenny Chatman ordered to pay millions in restitution

Sober home trafficker Kenny Chatman ordered to pay millions in restitution

Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman has agreed to pay back more than $16 million for his fraudulent chain of treatment centers and sober homes, according to an agreement entered in federal court this month. The money will go to 32 insurance companies, with by far the largest amount — nearly $8 million — going to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Under federal court stipulation rules, Chatman will...
Gov. Scott gives Aronberg extra year to investigate Hendry sheriff

Gov. Scott gives Aronberg extra year to investigate Hendry sheriff

Florida Governor Rick Scott has given Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg an additional year to look into allegations that Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden and one of his top deputies tried to cover up a convicted felon’s involvement in a hit-and-run crash that injured a teenage girl. The governor last year assigned Aronberg’s office to look into claims of allegations...
Sober home task force seeks 5-day prescription limit, needle exchange

Sober home task force seeks 5-day prescription limit, needle exchange

One day after Gov. Rick Scott announced he would seek a three-day limit on opioid prescriptions, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said he will seek a five-day limit when the Florida Legislature meets in January. The proposed five-day prescription limit is one of eight proposals addressing sober homes that Aronberg presented during a meeting of the county’s legislative delegation...
NEW: Jupiter sober-home owner threatened to throw out stabbed client

NEW: Jupiter sober-home owner threatened to throw out stabbed client

A bout of early-morning drinking at a Christian sober home in Jupiter led to a fight and stabbing early Tuesday and the owner’s arrest, town police records state. Robert Darigo, who describes himself on Facebook as the owner and operator of Christian Recovery Center, reportedly threatened the client who’d been stabbed during a fight at the townhome on Corbison Point Place in...
Three plead guilty to kickbacks in sober home schemes

Three plead guilty to kickbacks in sober home schemes

Three men arrested by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force have pleaded guilty to multiple counts of patient brokering. James Tomasso, 57, of Boca Raton, pleaded guilty Friday to 21 counts of patient brokering and was sentenced to 18 months in jail and ordered to pay $107,328 in fines. Tomasso was given credit for 225 days he has already served. >>Read complete Post coverage on sober...
Scott to ask lawmakers for 3-day cap on opioid prescriptions

Scott to ask lawmakers for 3-day cap on opioid prescriptions

Gov. Rick Scott will ask lawmakers to impose a three-day limit on opioid prescriptions as part of his initiative to combat the opioid crisis during the upcoming legislative session. Scott’s initiatives — announced at two press conferences on Tuesday — also include requiring all health-care professionals who prescribe controlled substances to participate in the Florida Prescription...
After 30 corruption arrests, how many drug rehabs are left?

After 30 corruption arrests, how many drug rehabs are left?

Recently released data from the Department of Children and Families disproves claims that the crackdown on corruption in south Florida’s drug treatment industry has caused a sharp decline in the number of treatment providers. According to a licensing report provided to the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force at a meeting last week, as of Aug. 1 there were 207 licensed...
Nationwide lottery project, like Post’s, finds improbable winnings

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...
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