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BREAKING: 11th arrest made in local sober home crackdown

The operator of a sober home in Boynton Beach was arrested on Wednesday and charged with patient brokering — the 11th arrest made by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force since October. Leonard Reginald Dobard, 49, owner of House of Chance at 309 SE 36th Ave. in Boynton Beach, accepted 10 checks totalling $3,102 from Whole Life Recovery for enrolling residents living in his sober home...
Special Report: Generation Heroin

Special Report: Generation Heroin

In 2015, 216 died of heroin-related overdoses in Palm Beach County. We tell each of their stories, unveil a stigma buried in suburbia, and a failure of policy-makers to act against an epidemic taking more lives than car crashes or homicides.
Man cleared of Chick-fil-a murder faces controversial heroin charge

Man cleared of Chick-fil-a murder faces controversial heroin charge

More than two years ago, Jesse Miller stood outside the Palm Beach County Courthouse, breathed in his first breaths as a free man in more than seven years and remembered as he looked up to the sky that the investigator who arrested him on murder charges told him he’d be behind bars forever. Fast forward to last September, when Miller, the now 34-year-old who was once convicted but eventually...
Despite losing grant, health district will help addicts with treatment

Despite losing grant, health district will help addicts with treatment

A month after learning it would not receive an $8.2 million grant to provide drug treatment to wean addicts off heroin, the Palm Beach County Health Care District is quickly moving forward with a scaled down version of its original plan. The taxpayer-financed district, which provides health care to the poor and uninsured, hopes to have the pilot project in place by the end of February. Efforts...
NEW: Charter school teacher arrested in class faces drug charges

NEW: Charter school teacher arrested in class faces drug charges

A third-grade teacher in Port St. Lucie was arrested Monday after police found syringes and used heroin capsules in his possession at school, according to an arrest report. Patrick John McLaughlin, 27, is facing two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and is being held in the St. Lucie County Jail. » Download our PostNOW app to get the latest Breaking News Police received a tip that McLaughlin...
Woman charged in sober home crackdown takes deal, avoids prison

Woman charged in sober home crackdown takes deal, avoids prison

The only woman — and youngest — of 11 people charged with patient brokering at a Boynton Beach treatment center pleaded guilty to the charges on Monday, the first case disposed of since the Sober Home Task Force began making arrests in October. Amanda LaFrance, 25, pleaded guilty to four counts of patient brokering, all felonies, and one count of attempted patient brokering, a misdemeanor...

Sober home report calls for more regulation, stricter enforcement

The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force overseen by State Attorney Dave Aronberg has submitted its final report to the Legislature. As The Post reported on Dec. 20, the report calls for more oversight of sober homes, licensing of so-called “marketers” and enforcement measures to help police. “Our primary goal is to protect the vulnerable patients who have been abused by unscrupulous...
Heroin crisis hits most age groups hard; already deadlier than gun homicides

Heroin crisis hits most age groups hard; already deadlier than gun homicides

CDC graphic A fresh report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that heroin overdose deaths have quickly increased across five age groups between 15 and 64.
Heroin task force launches 2 initiatives, contemplates needle exchange

Heroin task force launches 2 initiatives, contemplates needle exchange

After a seemingly late and slow start over the summer, efforts of the Palm Beach County Heroin Task Force are gaining traction and support — with two major initiatives poised to launch this month. At a task force meeting on Thursday, task force leaders said a pilot program aimed at providing immediate detox and treatment for addicts who have overdosed and are taken to a hospital emergency...
Lawmakers cite Post’s investigation as motive for change

Lawmakers cite Post’s investigation as motive for change

Local lawmakers agreed on Wednesday to cross the aisle and work together on passing legislation to address the opioid crisis and corruption in sober homes. During a brief presentation at a meeting of the Palm Beach County Commission and its Legislative Delegation, Democratic Senator Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth urged his colleagues to support a bill soon to be proposed by Republican Rep. Bill Hager...
Boynton continues temporary ban on new sober homes

Boynton continues temporary ban on new sober homes

Boynton Beach is continuing its six-month ban on new group homes including sober homes, and on Tuesday gave residents a chance to speak out against the move. But no one did. The city commissioners first approved the moratorium Dec. 6. The city’s staff requested the halt to have time to review the updated guidelines pertaining to group homes released Nov. 10 by the federal departments of Justice...
Post’s sober home, heroin coverage kickstarts official action

Post’s sober home, heroin coverage kickstarts official action

In 2016, officials took the first steps to clean up the fraud-ridden addiction treatment industry and curb the alarming rise of lives cut short by heroin-related overdoses. Every level of government — local, state and federal — acted after The Palm Beach Post’s 18 months of exclusive reporting on the addiction treatment industry and its special report Nov. 20 report, Heroin...
From Donald Trump to Dalia Dippolito: Palm Beach County’s top stories

From Donald Trump to Dalia Dippolito: Palm Beach County’s top stories

The next president of the United States has a place right here. And that’s just part of a wild news year in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. Here are the area’s top 10 stories, as determined, and chronicled, by Post editors and reporters, with help from statistics on how popular news stories were with readers. 1. President Trump: It’s one of the most shocking upsets in U...

POINT OF VIEW Trump should surrender the drug war

There is apparently at least one campaign promise that Donald Trump intends to keep. As he said in a New Hampshire campaign video: “No drugs are coming in. We’re gonna build a wall. You know what I’m talking about. You have confidence in me. Believe me, I will solve the problem.” Thus far, Trump’s actions match his rhetoric. He has tapped two bona fide drug warriors for...
Evidence of sex slavery cited to keep treatment center owner jailed

Evidence of sex slavery cited to keep treatment center owner jailed

After one woman went to police about notorious drug treatment center owner Kenny Chatman, she said his employees took her away in a van and gave her a choice: sign something recanting her statement, or be killed. Investigators last week found evidence backing up her claim. In Chatman’s office safe was her signed statement, witnessed by a notary, according to a Tuesday court filing signed...
Post heroin report named one of 2016’s best works of journalism in U.S.

Post heroin report named one of 2016’s best works of journalism in U.S.

The Palm Beach Post’s special report, Heroin: Killer of a Generation, has been named one of the top 15 works of journalism from across the country by the profession’s top trade magazine, Columbia Journalism Review. The magazine praised The Post for doing the “heavy lift” of covering the growing opioid epidemic in profiling each of the 216 people who died in Palm Beach County...
Does task force Grand Jury report give whole picture of county’s sober home problem?

Does task force Grand Jury report give whole picture of county’s sober home problem?

Palm Beach County chief assistant state attorney Al Johnson, left, Congresswoman Lois Frankel, and State Attorney Dave Aronberg, right, announce that a grand jury has issued 15 recommendations to combat the opioid crisis in Palm Beach County earlier this month.
Rubio cites Post coverage, asks feds to review grand jury report

Rubio cites Post coverage, asks feds to review grand jury report

Local prosecutors hoped that state regulators would consider a Palm Beach County grand jury’s recommendations on fixing the crime-plagued sober home industry. Now, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, wants the federal government to see whether the grand jury report should change laws across the country. Citing the wake-up call delivered by The Palm Beach Post’s “Heroin: Killer of a...

POINT OF VIEW Grand jury’s sober home report lacks balance

The Palm Beach Post’s Dec. 13 story, “Sober home report cites patient abuse,” accepted without question the grand jury’s “Report on the Proliferation of Fraud and Abuse in Florida’s Addiction Treatment Industry.” I believe grand juries can and do perform important functions, but they need to be “fair and balanced”. The report correctly concludes...
State vows to step up in wake of treatment center owner’s arrest

State vows to step up in wake of treatment center owner’s arrest

Staff writer Jane Musgrave contributed to this story. When felon Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman crossed the border from Mexico in November, he told U.S. Customs agents he was the owner and operator of Reflections Treatment Center and that his wife, Laura, was a “stay-at-home mom,” according to court documents.  This would be news to the state’s Department of Children...
Rubio: Feds should consider Palm Beach County sober home fixes

Rubio: Feds should consider Palm Beach County sober home fixes

Federal officials raid a sober home at 1501 N. Federal Hwy., Lake Worth, on Dec. 21, 2016. Officials charged owner Kenny Chatman and five others with health-care fraud in an ongoing crackdown on sober homes in Palm Beach County.

POINT OF VIEW Boynton ban on group homes is unlawful

The city of Boynton Beach is calling for a total and complete shutdown of new group homes for persons with disabilities entering the city until June 1, 2017 — until their staff can figure out what is going on. The City Commission voted to have a moratorium on any group homes for persons with disabilities in the city in order to have the ability to study guidance issued by the U.S. Department...
Feds started banging on doors at 5 a.m., launching sober home raid

Feds started banging on doors at 5 a.m., launching sober home raid

Residents at the rundown, two-story apartment building at 1501 N. Federal Hwy. said federal agents surrounded the building and began banging on their doors at about 5 a.m. Wednesday. Agents questioned the residents and arrested Fransesia “Francine” Davis, the resident manager. Residents, who asked not to be identified because of their fear of sober home operator Kenneth “Kenny&rdquo...
Editorial: Statewide heroin crisis requires stronger state response

Editorial: Statewide heroin crisis requires stronger state response

By every measure, Florida is in the grip of a staggering public health emergency. Its shorthand name is heroin. And in Palm Beach County it is an epidemic more lethal than car crashes or homicides. This year has seen 406 opioid-related overdose deaths through October, according to a grand jury report released this month. “Oh my God, it is the definition of a public health emergency,” Dr...
Failure to land $10 million grant grates on sober home community

Failure to land $10 million grant grates on sober home community

Members of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force were incredulous last week that the county lost out on millions of dollars of state money to fight the heroin epidemic. Chief Assistant State Attorney Al Johnson said “coffee came up my nose” when he read the news in The Palm Beach Post. Other members shook their heads or took aim at the Health Care District, the agency that asked...
How to curtail sober home abuses? Task force proposes getting tough

How to curtail sober home abuses? Task force proposes getting tough

Palm Beach County’s Sober Home Task Force unveiled its recommendations to the Legislature on Monday, focusing on giving state officials and law enforcement greater powers to police the fraud-ridden drug treatment industry. Under the proposals , the Department of Children and Family Services would be allowed to oversee some sober homes, so-called “marketers” in...
Cost of heroin epidemic tops $1 billion a year in Florida

Cost of heroin epidemic tops $1 billion a year in Florida

Staff writers John Kennedy and Lawrence Mower contributed to this story. There is a hard-dollar cost attached to the heroin epidemic now burning through Florida: more than $1.1 billion a year in hospital charges as of October 2015, $4.1 million a day — and rising. No west coast beach side community is too upscale, no Florida Panhandle town too small for a nearby hospital to be free from the...
Help with heroin crisis? State says ‘No’ to $10 million grant

Help with heroin crisis? State says ‘No’ to $10 million grant

As heroin’s deadly grip tightens on Palm Beach County, the Health Care District reached out its hand to the state to assist in the growing crisis. It came back empty. The Department of Children and Families denied the Health Care District of Palm Beach County’s request for a $10 million grant to launch a new program to herd addicts into treatment when they land in hospital emergency...
Lawmakers target heroin epidemic with two bills

Lawmakers target heroin epidemic with two bills

Two Florida lawmakers have responded to the opioid epidemic with bills that would increase sentences for selling fentanyl and require hospitals to provide additional care for overdose victims. The bills are the first introduced in the Florida Legislature’s 2017 addressing the opioid epidemic. The session begins on March 7. HB 61, filed by Rep. Larry Lee, D-Port St. Lucie, requires hospitals...
Price of heroin overdose antidote Narcan rises as much as 500 percent

Price of heroin overdose antidote Narcan rises as much as 500 percent

The price of Narcan — the lifesaving heroin-overdose antidote — has skyrocketed, with one formulation rising more than 500 percent in two years, an article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reported. Although Narcan first hit the market in 1971, demand has skyrocketed as the nationwide heroin epidemic worsens. And with more potent opioids on the street, the largest consumers...
Lake Worth sober home owner charged with patient brokering

Lake Worth sober home owner charged with patient brokering

The owner of a Lake Worth sober home was arrested in Broward County today on charges on patient brokering for allegedly accepting payments from a treatment center for each addict he enrolled in the center’s programs. Alex Vandervert, owner of Saje House, received $3,335 from Whole Life Recovery for providing case management services to four residents living at Saje House, according...
Heroin epidemic: $25,000 donation to help county buy overdose antidote naloxone

Heroin epidemic: $25,000 donation to help county buy overdose antidote naloxone

A private Lake Worth drug treatment center today donated $25,000 to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue to buy Narcan, a brand name for the expensive overdose antidote naloxone.

POINT OF VIEW End the stigma of addiction and treatment

Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding addiction and addiction treatment stops too many of the 24 million Americans who struggle with drugs or alcohol from getting the help they need. In fact, only 2 million seek treatment. We want to change that. That is why we recently launched the “We Do Recover” movement with the goal of saving lives by ending the stigma. We are doing this in several...
Grand jury proposes sweeping sober home industry reforms

Grand jury proposes sweeping sober home industry reforms

A three-month grand jury investigation into corruption in the drug treatment industry — believed to be the first in the country — uncovered evidence of sexual abuse, human trafficking and forced labor in addition to patient brokering and insurance fraud. The 37-page report proposes 15 sweeping proposals to change laws and increase criminal penalties for the exploitation of addicts seeking...
Price of heroin overdose antidote Narcan rises as much as 500 percent

Price of heroin overdose antidote Narcan rises as much as 500 percent

The price of Narcan – the lifesaving heroin-overdose antidote that revives the dying – has skyrocketed, with one formulation rising more than 500 percent in two years, according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Although Narcan first hit the market in 1971, demand has skyrocketed as the opioid epidemic worsens. And with more potent opioids on the street &ndash...
Frankel lends an ear to locals on opioid epidemic: ‘It’s overwhelming’

Frankel lends an ear to locals on opioid epidemic: ‘It’s overwhelming’

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel wanted to hear about the region’s opioid epidemic so she hosted a community forum in Delray Beach on Friday. She got an earful of bad news. “It’s overwhelming,” Frankel said, shaking her head. “I don’t think most people understand this.” In Delray Beach, the heroin epidemic has gotten so bad that the chiefs of police and fire rescue...
Drug companies profit on reviving dying heroin addicts

Drug companies profit on reviving dying heroin addicts

The price of Narcan – the lifesaving heroin-overdose antidote that revives the dying – has skyrocketed, with one formulation rising more than 500 percent in two years, according to an article published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Delray treatment center raided by Sober Home Task Force

Delray treatment center raided by Sober Home Task Force

The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force raided a Delray Beach treatment center on Tuesday and left with boxes sealed with evidence tape. The three-hour long raid at Chapters Recovery, formerly known as Good Future Recovery, yielded no arrests. The treatment center, located at 2230 W. Atlantic Ave., provides intensive outpatient treatment and partial hospitalization programs for addicts in early...
Patient brokering arrests: Woman, 25, youngest to be charged

Patient brokering arrests: Woman, 25, youngest to be charged

Amanda LaFrance came to Florida three years ago to get clean and sober and found herself in court Saturday facing 13 counts of patient brokering — the latest arrest by a task force tasked by the state legislature to investigate corruption in the sober-home industry. LaFrance, 25, is the only woman and the youngest of eight sober-home and treatment-center owners and operators facing multiple...
First woman arrested in sober home crackdown

First woman arrested in sober home crackdown

BREAKING: Amanda LaFrance, 25, came to Florida three years ago to get clean and found herself in court on Saturday facing 13 counts of brokering other addicts with insurance to Whole Life Recovery, a treatment center in Boynton Beach whose owner and operator faces charges of paying kickbacks for clients.
County commissioner wants to hear about those who died from overdoses

County commissioner wants to hear about those who died from overdoses

In her crusade for reforms to help curb the opioid crisis, Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay is seeking help from families on the front lines of the epidemic. McKinlay wants parents, siblings and friends who have lost loved ones to accidental heroin-related overdoses to share their personal stories with her in an email. She also wants to host a meeting early next year with families affected...
Drug dealer gets 30 years for selling fatal dose of fentanyl

Drug dealer gets 30 years for selling fatal dose of fentanyl

Among the reasons a federal prosecutor offered for why Christopher Massena deserved a stiff sentence for selling the drug that killed an addict — his extensive criminal history, lack of remorse and likelihood to offend again — was the message it would send to other drug dealers. “Drug dealers know about this case and they are watching,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer...
Task force urges action to stem heroin epidemic, save lives

Task force urges action to stem heroin epidemic, save lives

After more than seven months of work, the Palm Beach County Heroin Task Force is planning to unveil in January a multi-pronged “action plan” aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic. And task force members hope a recent Palm Beach Post expose about the epidemic’s toll in Palm Beach County will help prompt county and state lawmakers to provide money for many of the plan’s programs...
Wining and opining: Boynton woman uncorks frustrations about sober homes

Wining and opining: Boynton woman uncorks frustrations about sober homes

Wine, or any alcohol, isn’t allowed in a sober home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t mention sober homes on bottles of wine.
Aronberg wants more money to continue heroin fight

Aronberg wants more money to continue heroin fight

Holding up the recent Palm Beach Post front page showing 216 people who died from heroin-related overdoses, State Attorney Dave Aronberg warned lawmakers Tuesday of the epidemic’s continuing toll. To continue his fight, he urged the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation to renew the flow of state money to a three-pronged task force his office is running. If the $275,000 he received this year...
Aronberg warns of homeless crisis after sober home crackdown

Aronberg warns of homeless crisis after sober home crackdown

At a meeting of the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation on Tuesday, State Attorney Dave Aronberg explained how he has spent the $275,000 lawmakers gave him to probe corruption in the drug treatment industry but warned that if the funding is not renewed, proactive efforts to combat corruption will likely end. “Our criminal investigations will continue beyond the appropriation,” Aronberg...
So many drug OD deaths, medical examiner can’t keep up with load

So many drug OD deaths, medical examiner can’t keep up with load

The skyrocketing number of overdose deaths is causing the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office to stop performing autopsies on some people who commit suicide, die in car crashes or die in hospitals. “We just don’t have the manpower,” Chief Medical Examiner Michael Bell said. “We’re just being overwhelmed.” Last year, the office investigated 332 drug...
County commissioner demanding response to heroin epidemic

County commissioner demanding response to heroin epidemic

Make naloxone, the opioid-reversal drug, available to all first responders. Expand indigent treatment options. Launch clean syringe programs. Teach kids in school about the dangers of opioids. Those are just a few of the 20 recommendations Palm Beach County officials will consider from a 50-page report drafted by a national task force of municipal and county leaders in response to the national heroin...
4th sober home arrest in 5 days: Man faces patient brokering charges

4th sober home arrest in 5 days: Man faces patient brokering charges

A Delray Beach sober home operator became the fourth arrest in five days by the Sober Home Task Force as it continues its crackdown on patient brokering in the drug treatment industry. Howard James Fowler Jr., 26, surrendered at the Palm Beach County Jail on 14 counts of patient brokering Monday afternoon. Fowler will not be released from jail until his lawyer can assure a judge and prosecutor that...
‘Enough is enough:’ County official pledges action on heroin epidemic

‘Enough is enough:’ County official pledges action on heroin epidemic

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, stunned by the recent death of her chief aide’s daughter, pledged Monday to call on local and state government leaders for reforms to help curb the opioid epidemic. “Enough is enough,” McKinlay said Monday, a day after The Palm Beach Post exposed how little is being done by government to address a problem that killed 216 people in...
Third sober-home official arrested on patient-brokering charge