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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...
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.
$500 million worth of poppy plants seized in NC drug raid

$500 million worth of poppy plants seized in NC drug raid

Undercover officers executed a search warrant Tuesday morning at a large poppy grow operation in Catawba County in western North Carolina. Poppy plants are used to create opium, which is used to make drugs such as heroin. It is illegal to grow poppy plants in North Carolina. Deputies estimate that the plants found near Claremont are worth $500 million. Almost a dozen law enforcement officers...
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...
‘Gray death’ drug claims another life, this time in Georgia

‘Gray death’ drug claims another life, this time in Georgia

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has confirmed the first death in Georgia related to the powerful drug known as “gray death.”  Gray death is a deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl, but it’s much more potent than either drug on its own. Investigators said that 24-year-old Lauren Camp died in February after using drugs inside an Atlanta-area condo. Police said she...
JUST IN: Florida man high on heroin arrested after toddler drowns

JUST IN: Florida man high on heroin arrested after toddler drowns

A man in the Jacksonville-area faces manslaughter charges after his 2-year-old son drowned in a pool while he was supposed to be watching him, police said.  Ashley Smart, 41, was supposedly high on heroin when the incident happened on Tuesday morning, and police determined “culpable negligence” led to the boy’s death, WJXT reports.  Officials rushed the toddler to a local...
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...
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...
Boynton paramedics went through nearly $1,000 of Narcan last weekend

Boynton paramedics went through nearly $1,000 of Narcan last weekend

Boynton Beach’s paramedics usually use about $1,000 worth of Narcan in a month to revive drug users from overdosing. They used between $600 and $1,000 this past Friday through Monday. And while the city has seen about 45 overdoses on average per month, there were 25 those three days. Two of the users who overdosed died — a 38-year-old man at 3638 Southeast...
‘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...

POINT OF VIEW We need to get smarter on the drug crisis

As we confront the epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and heroin use that is sweeping the nation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is aggressively pursuing the cartel kingpins, neighborhood gangs, rogue doctors, drug peddlers — all of those responsible for pushing the pills, powder, and poison in our communities and fueling violence on the streets. But we have long recognized...
Jupiter: Heroin-related deaths increasing

Jupiter: Heroin-related deaths increasing

  The latest news and numbers about heroin-related overdoses is bad in Jupiter — and getting worse, according to a report released from the Jupiter Police Department: – Seventeen Jupiter residents died since 2014, including three this year. Read the full story in the Palm Beach Post.  
In Jupiter, heroin-related overdose numbers are in — and they’re not good

In Jupiter, heroin-related overdose numbers are in — and they’re not good

The latest news and numbers about heroin-related overdoses is bad in Jupiter — and getting worse, according to a report released from the Jupiter Police Department: - Seventeen Jupiter residents died since 2014, including three this year. - The youngest was 18. The oldest was 50. Twelve were men. Five were women. - Overdoses this year are up 163% compared to the first three months of last year...
What’s with the cameras on the side of Indiantown Road in Jupiter?

What’s with the cameras on the side of Indiantown Road in Jupiter?

(Photo/Bill DiPaolo) What’s that six-foot-tall gadget that looks like a scarecrow with cameras perched on the north side of Indiantown Road, at the end of the west bound off ramp from I-95? Readers asked, so the Palm Beach Post went to the source: The Florida Department of Transportation. Here’s the response: The device is a virtual weigh station to monitor trucks that jump off I-95 to...
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...
Editorial: Better late than never, Gov. Scott joins opioid fight

Editorial: Better late than never, Gov. Scott joins opioid fight

One hallmark of leadership is to propose an issue and convince people to get behind you. By this measure, Gov. Rick Scott has done poorly of late. Witness how the Legislature has rejected his pitches to spend millions on business and tourist-marketing incentives and repairs for Lake Okeechobee’s Herbert Hoover Dike. But another way to lead is to gauge the rising temper of the people and then...
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...
Worried about revenue hit, county studies emergency services sales tax

Worried about revenue hit, county studies emergency services sales tax

Palm Beach County is studying a tax swap officials hope will at least partially plug the financial hole they say would be created if voters back a homestead exemption plan the Florida House of Representatives approved Tuesday. The House measure, approved by a vote of 83-35, puts a measure on the November 2018 ballot asking Florida voters whether the non-schools homestead exemption should be expanded...
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...
Florida ponders mandatory minimum sentence for selling synthetic opiod

Florida ponders mandatory minimum sentence for selling synthetic opiod

Grappling with a deadly drug scourge across the state, Florida senators Tuesday had an impassioned debate about whether the state should require mandatory-minimum prison sentences for fentanyl trafficking. The debate came as senators considered a bill that would impose tough criminal penalties on people who sell fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin. Its...
County scrambling to deal with expanded homestead exemption plan

County scrambling to deal with expanded homestead exemption plan

The Florida Senate passed a measure Monday that could allow voters to expand the homestead exemption in 2018, frightening Palm Beach County officials, who say the move would cost them millions of dollars in property tax revenue. In anticipation of the Senate’s passage of the joint resolution — the House of Representatives approved its version last week — Palm Beach County Commissioner...
Heroin crisis: Standing-room-only crowd jams state workshop in WPB

Heroin crisis: Standing-room-only crowd jams state workshop in WPB

In a loud cry for help, more than 250 people – some shouting curse words and others holding photographs of dead loved ones – jammed into a conference room Monday to demand action from state officials to curb the opioid epidemic. “I’m (expletive) tired of it. I’m tired of losing my friends,’’ Jordan Meyers, a recovering addict from Boca Raton, said at the first...
Protesters plan visual display of opioid victims before state workshop

Protesters plan visual display of opioid victims before state workshop

If protesters get their way, state officials arriving in West Palm Beach on Monday to get ideas for fighting the opioid crisis will walk past dozens of names and faces of people who have died in the epidemic. “We want to make this epidemic personal,’’ said Maureen Mulroy Kielian, a recovery advocate and leader of Southeast Florida Recovery Advocates. “We want the...
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...
Kenny Chatman allies sentenced to prison

Kenny Chatman allies sentenced to prison

Kenny Chatman walks to his Reflections Treatment Center in Margate in December 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post) More co-defendants of recovery industry pariah Kenny Chatman were sentenced to federal prison on Monday, but Chatman’s lawyer said he’ll need another month to figure out how to defend his client in sentencing.
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...
Chatman defendant: Feds, state target sober homes together

Chatman defendant: Feds, state target sober homes together

A recruiter for Kenny Chatman‘s drug treatment centers says his cooperation with state and local investigators led to about a dozen arrests. A new federal court filing for Michael Bonds shows how defendants in several cases are being used against each other, as well as cooperation between federal and state officials trying to crack down on South Florida’s corruption-plagued sober home...
Sen. Nelson, Scripps scientists bemoan Trump’s proposed research cuts

Sen. Nelson, Scripps scientists bemoan Trump’s proposed research cuts

Nearly $6 billion in cuts to the National Institutes of Health in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget could “devastate” Scripps Florida at a time when scientists at the Jupiter campus say they’re making progress on non-addictive opioids. “This will cripple Scripps research, a cut like this. It could literally result in the loss of our institute in the state of Florida...
Governor’s opioid listening tour generates skepticism, concerns

Governor’s opioid listening tour generates skepticism, concerns

State officials dispatched by Gov. Rick Scott on a statewide listening tour to seek solutions to the opioid epidemic will devote just six hours in four stops to an issue causing thousands of deaths in Florida and nationwide. As other governors declare a state of emergency and increase spending on treatment, Scott has called for four 90-minute sessions, including one on May 1 in West Palm Beach. The...
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....
NEW: Addiction-center worker accused of stabbing former client in neck

NEW: Addiction-center worker accused of stabbing former client in neck

An employee at a Greenacres-area addiction treatment center is accused of attacking a former client with a screwdriver. Authorities arrested Shaun Horne, 49, of Riviera Beach on Monday on one count of aggravated battery. He was released late Tuesday from the Palm Beach County Jail after posting $3,000 bail. See who’s been booked into the Palm Beach County Jail His arrest stems from an incident...
NEW: Scott, Bondi vow to get tough on Florida opioid crisis

NEW: Scott, Bondi vow to get tough on Florida opioid crisis

In declaring for the first time that the state is caught up in the “national” opioid epidemic, Gov. Rick Scott and Pam Bondi announced plans Tuesday to hold public workshops to generate ideas in Palm Beach and three other counties but pledged no new major state resources to the fight. However, Bondi pledged to go after sober homes, particularly in Palm Beach County. “We’re...
Rick Scott, Pam Bondi to hold press conference on Florida’s opioid epidemic

Rick Scott, Pam Bondi to hold press conference on Florida’s opioid epidemic

Attorney General Pam Bondi and Governor Rick Scott will hold a joint news conference about Florida’s opioid epidemic at 4 p.m. today in the state Capitol in front of the Attorney General’s Office. It is not known exactly what Bondi and Scott will discuss. The press conference can be seen online at The Florida Channel. Check back for updates. Several local leaders and agencies have...
JUST IN: Man ODs at Wawa with toddler in backseat

JUST IN: Man ODs at Wawa with toddler in backseat

A Lake Park man overdosed Sunday morning in a Wawa parking lot while a toddler sat in the backseat of his car, Riviera Beach police said. Officials found Joseph Delligatti, 27, unconscious and convulsing shortly before noon Sunday in the driver’s seat of a tan Mercedes-Benz in the gas station’s lot off West Blue Heron Boulevard. Police said the car was still in drive. A 3-year-old was...

Letters: Syrian strike a warning to Russia

The page one headline, “U.S. Strikes at Syria” (Friday), while factually correct, missed the point. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a war criminal and last night’s attack will not change his behavior. The real target was Vladimir Putin. Trump sent him an unambiguous message that the days of Putin pushing the U.S. president around are over. Iran and North Korea should heed the...
Editorial: County plan for battling opioid crisis is a good start

Editorial: County plan for battling opioid crisis is a good start

When The Palm Beach Post published a comprehensive project on the opioid crisis in November called “Heroin: Killer of a Generation,” the newspaper showed the faces of the 216 people who had died in Palm Beach County in 2015 of a heroin, fentanyl or illicit morphine overdose. Those faces, hauntingly, took up an entire page. If that project were to be done today, it would take three pages...
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...
Mass. warns addicts about Florida drug-treatment recruiters

Mass. warns addicts about Florida drug-treatment recruiters

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has issued a consumer advisory, warning of unscrupulous marketers “trying to recruit Massachusetts residents with substance use disorder to travel to so-called treatment centers in Arizona, California and Florida.” According to the advisory,  the recruiters often use texts or social media to recruit patients. Some offer to pay...
NEW: Doctor accused of prescribing pain killers without exams for cash

NEW: Doctor accused of prescribing pain killers without exams for cash

A Boynton Beach-area doctor was arrested Wednesday after investigators said he was prescribing pain medications either after hours or from his home without performing examinations, and then charging patients in cash for the prescriptions, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report. Peter Katz, 72, faces one count of unlawful prescription of a controlled substance. He was released...
Jupiter will offer about $3 M for vacant land near town hall

Jupiter will offer about $3 M for vacant land near town hall

The two acres (red square) are now vacant Moving forward with a plan for the town to offer $2.8 million for two vacant acres next to Jupiter High School to improve safety for students, parents and employees was approved 4-1 Tuesday night. Increasing traffic is a hazard for drivers and walkers, said Colleen Iannitti, principal at the 3,000-student school. “Anything we can do to relieve traffic...
Palm Beach County takes steps to attack heroin epidemic

Palm Beach County takes steps to attack heroin epidemic

Palm Beach County commissioners unanimously approved an action plan Tuesday to address the opioid epidemic roaring through the county and across the state. That plan calls for the hiring of three new staff members — two in the county’s swamped Medical Examiner’s Office and a senior-level opioid czar — and the expenditure of $3 million over the next two years that...
Should Jupiter spend $3 M for two vacant acres near high school?

Should Jupiter spend $3 M for two vacant acres near high school?

  Spending about $3 million to buy two vacant acres next to Jupiter High School would make coming and going from the 3,000-student school safer for students, parents and employees, Mayor Todd Wodraska said. The town council votes on the plan Tuesday night. Read the full story in The Palm Beach Post.  
Scott: Public health emergency to fight opioid overdoses is possible

Scott: Public health emergency to fight opioid overdoses is possible

Florida Governor Rick Scott on Thursday said he has not ruled out declaring a public health emergency over the opioid epidemic now burning through Florida. “I’m still reviewing it,” said Scott, who has not previously spoken publicly about the mounting number of requests for such a declaration. The governor made his comment at the Palm Beach County Health Department, where...
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...
Delaney wins council seat over Klug in Jupiter

Delaney wins council seat over Klug in Jupiter

Ron Delaney Incumbent Ron Delaney narrowly won Tuesday’s runoff election for the Jupiter Town Council Second District seat against Ben Klug. “We ran an honest campaign. We did not do any negative campaigning. I just told the truth,” said Delaney, who spent Tuesday night at his Egret Cove home with his family. Read the full story in The Palm Beach Post.  
Delaney wins race for Jupiter town council against Klug

Delaney wins race for Jupiter town council against Klug

Ron Delaney Ron Delaney narrowly has won the race to in Tuesday’s runoff election for the Jupiter Town Council Second District seat against Ben Klug. Delaney has about 51 percent compared to Klug’s 49 percent, according to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office.  Stay with The Palm Beach Post for more election results.
Delaney off to early lead in Jupiter council election

Delaney off to early lead in Jupiter council election

  Ron Delaney has jumped off to a lead over Ben Klug in early absentee ballots in Tuesday’s runoff election for the Jupiter Town Council Second District seat. Delaney has about 59 percent compared to Klug’s 41 percent of absentee ballots, the only ones that have been counted so far by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office. Stay with The Palm Beach Post for election...
Jupiter residents complain alot, but will they vote on Tuesday?

Jupiter residents complain alot, but will they vote on Tuesday?

Indiantown Road traffic is one of many issues facing Jupiter (Photo/Lannis Waters) “Complaining on Facebook is easy. We live in such a lovely place. Too many people take it for granted,” said Jupiter resident Cheryl Schneider, one of many locals who want a big turnout in Tuesday’s runoff Jupiter town council election between Ron Delaney and Ben Klug.. See the full story in The Palm...
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...
BREAKING: Overdose deaths drop sharply in Martin County this year

BREAKING: Overdose deaths drop sharply in Martin County this year

Following two major drug-enforcement efforts aimed at suspected sellers and distributors, Martin County has seen a sharp decline in recent overdose cases, sheriff’s officials said. The sheriff’s office reported fewer than 10 overdose calls in each of the last three months, following a spike in 2016 that reached as high as 29 in October. “We’re clearly seeing a downward trend...
UPDATE: Deputies 'could see drug particles in the air' during heroin bust

UPDATE: Deputies 'could see drug particles in the air' during heroin bust

UPDATE 11:50 a.m.: When the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office conducted their heroin drug bust Tuesday night, they “could see drug particles in the air,” Sheriff Ken J. Mascara said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. Considered “the largest heroin-related drug bust in the history of the sheriff’s office,” deputies confiscated more than $300...
JUST IN: St. Lucie drug bust yields 150 Xanax bars, one arrest

JUST IN: St. Lucie drug bust yields 150 Xanax bars, one arrest

A 23-year-old man had 150 Xanax bars in his possession when he was arrested late Friday, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said. Get the latest Breaking News from The Post Jimmy Lee Kokkinaris remained in custody Saturday morning at the St. Lucie County jail with his bail set at $61,500. He faces two charges of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of...
Ten overdoses in one day: Is there bad heroin on the street?

Ten overdoses in one day: Is there bad heroin on the street?

Is there a bad batch of heroin in Palm Beach County? The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner tweeted Friday morning that they have had 10 overdose deaths in a single day, raising concerns that an especially lethal form of heroin is on the street. The drug that has been most linked to heroin deaths is fentanyl, and variations of it, such as carfentanyl, an elephant tranquilizer. It’s...
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.
Jupiter campaign dollars – Follow the money

Jupiter campaign dollars – Follow the money

Jupiter voters: Are you wondering where Ron Delaney and Ben Klug got their campaign cash? Click here to take a look. Delaney and Klug are running in a March 28 runoff contest for the Jupiter town council. Ron Delaney Ben Klug
Another runoff election in Jupiter?

Another runoff election in Jupiter?

  Ben Klug Ron Delaney If the word “Runoff” sounds familiar to Jupiter voters, it’s no wonder. It happened just a year ago. Wayne Posner, who Tuesday night won re-election to the council, defeated longtime incumbent Karen Golonka  a runoff last March for a seat on the town council. Golonka, a retired urban planner, announced she would not run again after serving eight...
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...
New charges in Kenny Chatman case: Evidence “massive”

New charges in Kenny Chatman case: Evidence “massive”

  New charges have been filed against a doctor who worked for Kenneth Chatman’s notorious sober home operation, where women addicts were prostituted, held against their will and allowed to continue using drugs, according to court records. The new charges against Dr. Joaquin Mendez include conspiracy to commit health care fraud, giving a false statement relating to health-care fraud and...
Sober home task force raid nets 20th arrest

Sober home task force raid nets 20th arrest

The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force made its 20th arrest on Wednesday, charging Steve Johnson with 48 counts of patient brokering, alleging he paid referral fees to sober home operators for insured addicts. Johnson, 45, a 1990 graduate of Wellington High School, was being booked into the Palm Beach County Detention Center on Wednesday morning as agents raided Palm Beach Recovery & Wellness...
Three more sober home operators arrested in Delray Beach

Three more sober home operators arrested in Delray Beach

Two brothers and a tattoo artist surrendered at the Palm Beach County jail on Sunday after learning they were being charged with dozens of counts of patient brokering for allegedly accepting kickbacks from Chapters Recovery, a drug treatment center in Delray Beach. Brothers Adam, 25, and Eric, 28 Lahr, of Palm Beach Gardens, each face 34 counts of patient brokering. According to arrest reports, the...
POINT OF VIEW Whose child has to die before somebody does something?

POINT OF VIEW Whose child has to die before somebody does something?

“Whose child has to die before somebody does something?” That was the question my former aide, Johnnie Easton, asked me shortly after I was elected. It was one of what would become many sleepless nights she had to call me to tell me she would be late because she was out searching the streets for her daughter, Tasha. In mid-November of 2016, she got the answer to that question. Hers. Since...
Visit the Palm Beach Post at Honda Classic!

Visit the Palm Beach Post at Honda Classic!

Stop and say hi at the Honda Classic to Palm Beach Post reps Ron Carr & Deanna Hamilton at the Palm Beach Post. The booth is near the driving range.  
Drug treatment CEO arrested on 93 counts of patient brokering

Drug treatment CEO arrested on 93 counts of patient brokering

The owner of a Delray Beach drug treatment center raided in December was arrested Thursday on 93 counts of patient brokering for allegedly paying kickbacks to sober home owners who enrolled insured addicts his treatment program. Daniel Kandler, 41, owner of Chapters Recovery - formerly known as Good Future Recovery - was arrested on Thursday morning by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force...
NEW: St. Lucie woman jailed after shooting up heroin in 7-Eleven

NEW: St. Lucie woman jailed after shooting up heroin in 7-Eleven

A Port St. Lucie woman was arrested Wednesday after reportedly shooting up heroin in a 7-Eleven bathroom, city police said. Late Wednesday an officer was at the 7-Eleven on St. Lucie West Boulevard east of Interstate 95 and heard groaning from the women’s bathroom. Someone was banging on the walls, the officer said. READ MORE: The Post’s complete coverage of South Florida’s heroin...
Tears, anger as more than 100 people call for help on opioids crisis

Tears, anger as more than 100 people call for help on opioids crisis

One by one, through tears and in voices rising with anger, they stepped forward and shared tragic details of how heroin and opioids have torn apart their lives. A mother of an addict said she feels so hopeless she has “made his funeral arrangements in my brain.’’ A woman from Delaware described how her 24-year-old son found his brother dead of a fentanyl overdose. A frustrated father...
Therapist: 90% of addicts in Chatman sober homes openly used drugs

Therapist: 90% of addicts in Chatman sober homes openly used drugs

As many as 90 percent of the addicts who were supposed to be getting treatment while living in sober homes connected to the notorious drug-treatment businesses operated by Kenneth Chatman were openly using drugs, enabling Chatman to continue billing their insurance for millions of dollars in unnecessary drug tests, according to the former clinical treatment director. New details of Chatman’s...
County budget wishes, including $3 million for drug crisis, top income

County budget wishes, including $3 million for drug crisis, top income

Palm Beach County is contemplating additional spending — as much as $1 million this year and another $2 million in 2018 — to combat the heroin and opioid crisis that has devastated families and put added strains on first responders and hospitals here and across the country. The idea of spending the additional money was presented by county staff members Tuesday as they gave commissioners...
Renewed push to declare heroin a crisis: Governor hears from Democrats

Renewed push to declare heroin a crisis: Governor hears from Democrats

Citing out-of-control heroin-related hospital costs first detailed by The Palm Beach Post, Florida Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, and the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus are urging Gov. Rick Scott to declare the heroin crisis a public health emergency. Heroin and fentanyl, wrote Braynon, are “wreaking widespread devastation, not only from the ravages of addiction, but...
Drug-treatment operator Kenneth Chatman expected to plead guilty

Drug-treatment operator Kenneth Chatman expected to plead guilty

Kenneth Chatman, the accused operator of a notorious drug-treatment business who allegedly pimped out female addicts, is expected to plead guilty in a federal case that accuses him of money laundering, health care fraud and sex trafficking, recently filed court records show. The documents also reveal that investigators recorded more than 100 phone calls Chatman has made in jail since his arrest in...
PBC looking to boost spending to combat heroin/opioid crisis

PBC looking to boost spending to combat heroin/opioid crisis

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg) Palm Beach County commissioners, opening discussions about their 2018 budget, are considering setting aside $2 million to combat the ongoing heroin/opioid crisis.
Addiction treatment center raided; husband and wife arrested

Addiction treatment center raided; husband and wife arrested

A husband and wife who operate a drug treatment center and sober homes were arrested on Thursday and charged with depositing checks payable to a doctor who did not work for them into their companies’ accounts. James Durkin, 37, was charged with 13 counts of forgery. His wife, Jaclyn Sue Durkin, 29, of Boca Raton, was charged with two counts of forgery. Although the checks were made out to a...
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