Should OD rescues be limited? Questions rise as Narcan’s cost soars

Could multiple drug overdoses by the same person prompt first responders to stop giving that person Narcan? One Martin County commissioner raised that prospect during a budget meeting this week. He isn’t the first to do so nationwide, as counties, cities and towns grapple with the opioid epidemic and the soaring cost of the antidote, which saves lives by blocking the effects of heroin and other...
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.
Baker Co. commissioner reaches out to McKinlay on opioids

Baker Co. commissioner reaches out to McKinlay on opioids

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay Baker County Commissioner Cathy Rhoden reached out to Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay for tips on how to start an opioids task force, an email exchange between the two commissioners shows. “Our county, Baker County, is heavy into meth addiction and now we are seeing heroin move in,” Rhoden wrote to...
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...
10-year-old Florida boy dead after mysterious encounter with fentanyl

10-year-old Florida boy dead after mysterious encounter with fentanyl

Alton Banks went to the community swimming pool like so many other children in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood on a warm day in late June, but unlike the other kids, the 10-year-old collapsed and died later that night at home from a mysterious encounter with the deadly drug fentanyl. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said on Tuesday that investigators believe...
 Drug called ‘Pink’ killed her 21-year-old son, now heartbroken Texas woman is warning others

 Drug called ‘Pink’ killed her 21-year-old son, now heartbroken Texas woman is warning others

A Texas is woman is warning others about a drug with the street name “Pink” after it was listed on her son’s death certificate, along with heroin. The drug is many times more powerful than morphine, according to the Texas Poison center, KTVA reported, and Mary Elliot had never heard of it before. Her son, Jeremy Elliot, 21, died in April after sinking into a coma...
Commentary: Don’t be ashamed of loved one’s addiction

Commentary: Don’t be ashamed of loved one’s addiction

I’m sitting in my restaurant not long after my son Tony Luke III dies, and an elderly gentleman comes in and he says to me: “Hey, Tony, I heard your son passed away. I just want to tell you how incredibly sorry I am.” “Well thank you. I appreciate it.” “Do you mind if I asked you how he died? Did he have cancer, was he … ” “No,” I said,...
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...
Goodman: Palm Beach County is right to weigh suing opioid makers. Pam Bondi should, too.

Goodman: Palm Beach County is right to weigh suing opioid makers. Pam Bondi should, too.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay at a workshop on the opioid crisis organized by state officials, May 1. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinley has the right idea in exploring legal action against Big Pharma for its role in the opioid crisis. Several counties, in New York and California, and states including Ohio...
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,...
Palm Beach County considers suing drug companies over opioid crisis

Palm Beach County considers suing drug companies over opioid crisis

At the suggestion of Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, the county is looking into suing drug companies whose products are at the heart of the opioid crisis. County Attorney Denise Nieman said she will have her staff examine the legal landscape to determine if pharmaceutical companies have been successfully sued, which jurisdictions have been involved and what law firms have taken...
BREAKING: Stiffer penalties for fentanyl possession signed into law

BREAKING: Stiffer penalties for fentanyl possession signed into law

Peggy Hernandez sat close Tuesday afternoon as Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that sets mandatory minimums for drug dealers who carry fentanyl. The Wellington mother thought of her son, Christian “Ty” Hernandez, who died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016. She might have thought of the man who was convicted for selling her son the fatal drug, a first-of-its-kind conviction in Palm...
Palm Beach County to set 2018 property tax rates

Palm Beach County to set 2018 property tax rates

The prospect of a voter-approved change in the state homestead exemption program — still years away — has led Palm Beach County officials to shy away from reducing property tax rates despite a rise in values that puts more money in county coffers. County commissioners are poised to set property tax rates Tuesday when they meet to discuss the  2018 budget. County staff members...

POINT OF VIEW: A difference with training in mental health first aid

There is a mental health crisis in America. The statistics alone should compel each of us to ask, “What can I do?” Every 13 minutes, someone in the United States dies by their own hand, making suicide the nation’s 10th-leading cause of death and second among those aged 15 to 34. Among children 10 to 14, the suicide rate has caught up with the death rate from traffic accidents. Many...
LATEST: Three arrested for heroin trafficking after undercover probe

LATEST: Three arrested for heroin trafficking after undercover probe

An undercover operation led to the arrests of three people Friday in St. Lucie and Indian River counties for trafficking in heroin, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said. Investigators recovered 27 grams of a heroin-fentanyl mixture that had been packaged for sale. Undercover drug operation nets eight arrests in Jupiter area Michael Andrews, 35, was charged with possession, trafficking...
Editorial: New sober-house laws are good, but we need bigger plan

Editorial: New sober-house laws are good, but we need bigger plan

Thanks to the persistence of local legislators and Palm Beach County’s Sober Home Task Force, Florida now has the legal means to hit fraudulent sober homes with newfound power. It’s a significant milestone. But the addiction crisis keeps deepening. So we need to think bigger. RELATED: Palm Beach County considers suing drug companies over opioid crisis The new law is a great step forward...
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...
NEW: West Palm Hazmat called to Northwood home after apparent OD

NEW: West Palm Hazmat called to Northwood home after apparent OD

The city’s Hazmat team was called to a home on 33rd Street during a death investigation Thursday morning, briefly shutting down roads in the Northwood neighborhood. City police found one person dead inside the home west of North Flagler Drive from an apparent drug overdose. Authorities, fearing the home may be contaminated by hazardous materials such as fentanyl, called the city’s fire...
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...
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...
What is fentanyl? 10 things to know about the potentially deadly drug

What is fentanyl? 10 things to know about the potentially deadly drug

The powerful drug fentanyl claimed the life of music legend Prince in 2016 and has, in recent years, largely contributed to the next wave of America’s opioid crisis. Fentanyl, also known as Actiq, Duragesic or Sublimaze in its prescription form, is an especially potent painkiller developed in the 1960s used to treat extreme pain. According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and...

POINT OF VIEW: Do more to get overdose survivors into treatment

Our community hospitals will be doing more to reduce the number of accidental overdoses caused by heroin, opiates and illegal drugs. A new law signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott this month requires hospitals with emergency departments to develop best practices that focus on the prevention of unintentional overdoses. Additionally, the law permits reporting of suspected or actual overdoses to a central...
NEW: Tequesta man accused of hiding drugs in soda cans

NEW: Tequesta man accused of hiding drugs in soda cans

A suspicious vehicle early Tuesday caught the attention of a sheriff’s deputy and led to the arrest of a 31-year-old homeless man who was hiding drugs in empty soda cans, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies say cans of Sprite, Sunkist and Dr Pepper were actually containers for William Joseph Lefler, 31, to store fentanyl, heroin, crack cocaine and other drugs. Lefler was...
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...
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.
How heroin moves from Mexico’s drug cartels to U.S. street corners

How heroin moves from Mexico’s drug cartels to U.S. street corners

From the doorway of Room 8 at the Dayton Motor Hotel on North Keowee Street, the Ohio DEA officer spotted the trash can, which appeared to be covered in human feces. He knew immediately what that meant: heroin. Gerardo Alfonso Vargas had traveled more than 2,000 miles to Dayton from Tijuana, Mexico, after ingesting 71 latex-covered heroin pellets worth as much as $100,000 or more. Had he...
POINT OF VIEW: Fighting the opioid epidemic in the exam room

POINT OF VIEW: Fighting the opioid epidemic in the exam room

The United States is in the midst of a public health crisis. Opioid addiction is taking mothers, fathers and children; destroying lives, breaking up families. The problem is particularly insidious in Florida, which has become a destination for rehabilitative services and sober home living. In the first part of 2016, approximately 2,600 people died from opioid overdoses in the state and the epidemic...
BREAKING: Drug overdoses rise in Martin County after early-year dip

BREAKING: Drug overdoses rise in Martin County after early-year dip

After seeing a sharp decrease to begin the year, drug overdoses in Martin County are on the rise again, authorities said this week. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office reported Thursday five overdose calls in a three-day period, one resulting in a death on June 3. The ages of those who overdosed ranged from 27 to 50. The sheriff’s reported an average of fewer than 10 overdose calls between...
Got milk? DEA releases drug slang code words

Got milk? DEA releases drug slang code words

The DEA has released its 2017 list of drug slang code words – the lingo used by dealers and addicts to refer to specific illicit and pharmaceutical drugs of abuse. According to the DEA, the list “is designed as a ready reference for law enforcement personnel who are confronted by many of the hundreds of slang terms used to identify a wide variety of controlled substances, designer drugs...
Sober Home Task Force raids West Palm Beach treatment center

Sober Home Task Force raids West Palm Beach treatment center

Wellness Center of Palm Beach is the latest drug treatment center to be raided by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force.  Delray Beach Police Det. Nicole Lucas, a member of the task force, reported the May 30 raid on her Facebook page and asked patients who want to give a statement to send her a private message on Facebook.  No arrests have been made as a result of the raid. READ MORE...
Ohio pilot, wife died from powerful animal tranquilizer, cocaine mixture

Ohio pilot, wife died from powerful animal tranquilizer, cocaine mixture

    A Spirit Airlines pilot and his wife died of an overdose of cocaine and carfentanil, a drug so powerful its primary use is to tranquilize rhinos and elephants, the coroner’s office in Montgomery County, Ohio confirmed on Tuesday.  Brian Halye, 36, and Courtney Halye, 34, were found dead in their Dayton-area home in March by their four children, who called police. ...
$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...
Here’s what Florida lawmakers did — and didn’t do — about the heroin crisis

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

Florida lawmakers attacked the heroin overdose epidemic this year wherever they could find it — in courtrooms, call-centers, hospitals, sober homes and treatment centers. Unlike recent years, when bills related to addiction and sober homes faced indifference and pious judgment, this year’s legislative session saw bipartisan bills flying through both houses unopposed. Some of the urgency...
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...
Opinion: How the Senate health bill would make the opioid epidemic worse

Opinion: How the Senate health bill would make the opioid epidemic worse

Over the past two decades, the number of Americans dying each year from opioid overdoses has quadrupled. In the hardest-hit state, West Virginia, where the overdose death rate is about three times the national average, the crisis has resulted in an overwhelmed foster-care system and a state burial program for the poor that ran through its entire annual budget three months into the year. This epidemic...
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