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

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

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a Washington-based policy and research group, awarded its inaugural journalism award for fraud reporting to The Palm Beach Post for its work on fraud in the sober-home industry. Post investigative reporters Pat Beall and Christine Stapleton accepted the award Tuesday at the coalition’s annual meeting in Washington. The coalition praised The Post’s...
NEW: Doctor accused of prescribing drugs without exams arrested again

NEW: Doctor accused of prescribing drugs without exams arrested again

A 73-year-old doctor who was arrested in April for prescribing pain killers for cash and whose medical license suspended in October was arrested again this week, according to authorities. Peter Katz, who practices family medicine in Boynton Beach, was arrested Wednesday on charges of unlawful prescription and fraud, among others. The arrest comes after the Florida Department of Health issued an emergency...
NEW: Man faces trafficking charges as fentanyl, pills found in locker

NEW: Man faces trafficking charges as fentanyl, pills found in locker

A Wellington man is facing drug trafficking charges after investigators found stashes of drugs including fentanyl, cocaine, Adderall and marijuana in a storage locker he rented in suburban Boca Raton, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. Jason Daniel Miller, 39, is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail and faces multiple drug trafficking charges and multiple charges of drug posession...
State Attorney Dave Aronberg testifies before House panel on opioids

State Attorney Dave Aronberg testifies before House panel on opioids

The congressional representatives sitting on the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations wanted to hear about patient brokering and sober home fraud. Tuesday morning, they got an earful from Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and his chief assistant, Al Johnson. “We have had a surge of unscrupulous individuals who prey on addicts,” said Aronberg. &ldquo...
POINT OF VIEW: The untold story of the opioid crisis

POINT OF VIEW: The untold story of the opioid crisis

The Palm Beach Post’s Nov. 15 story, “Why Palm Beach County is the ‘epicenter’ of the deadly opioid crisis,” bluntly lays out a significant tragedy occurring right outside our front doors. While the devastating number of deadly overdoses in our county – 571 last year – is certainly a crisis, my mind quickly shifts to those left behind. How many thousands have...
Opioid crisis: Palm Beach County looking for firms for Big Pharma suit

Opioid crisis: Palm Beach County looking for firms for Big Pharma suit

Want to represent Palm Beach County if it goes toe to toe with Big Pharma? Law firms could soon have that opportunity. Commissioners voted 7-0 Tuesday to have County Attorney Denise Nieman’s office begin crafting a request for proposals from firms that would represent the county should it decide to file suit against drug companies, manufacturers or pharmacies as part of its effort to combat...
If Palm Beach County sues big Pharma, 14 law firms interested

If Palm Beach County sues big Pharma, 14 law firms interested

Fourteen law firms — including seven based in Florida — have expressed an interest in representing Palm Beach County if it decides to file suit against opioid manufacturers, distributors or pharmacies, according to a report prepared by the county attorney’s office. At the suggestion of County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose former aide lost a daughter to the opioid...

POINT OF VIEW: Destigmatizing mental health in the legal profession

It was only October that the legal community lost one of our most vocal champions for mental health. As executive director of Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc., Michael Cohen spent the past 20 years advocating for attorneys struggling with substance abuse and mental illness. He also spent this same time recovering from his own battle with addiction. Cohen was a safety net to so many in need. My hope...
Florida man shoots up heroin during car chase, deputies say

Florida man shoots up heroin during car chase, deputies say

A Marion County man was arrested on suspicion of stealing a family member’s car, but it was what he was doing inside the car that got him deeper in trouble, deputies said. Deputies tried arresting John Quincey Stephens on Monday on a felony warrant at a family member’s home in Silver Springs, deputies said. Stephens stole the family’s vehicle and fled, deputies said. Stephens...
NEW: Accused drug dealer warns of heroin ‘dropping’ people ‘like crazy’

NEW: Accused drug dealer warns of heroin ‘dropping’ people ‘like crazy’

A Stuart man’s attempt to sell heroin Wednesday night did not go as he had hoped, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. Instead, Charles Earl Zureich was overcome with emotion as he was taken into custody by sheriff’s detectives during an undercover drug transaction. He was taken to a hospital for observation before being booked into the Martin County Jail, the sheriff’s...
Opioid addiction wrecked my family, mother says

Opioid addiction wrecked my family, mother says

A grieving Jacksonville mother is sharing a powerful lesson about opioid addiction.  “My son would have sold my soul for his next high,” Mary Purvis said. “That's just how bad he had gotten." Purvis says the mother of her grandchildren was recently killed — and her son was shot.  Now, her son is missing.  For years, Purvis tried to help her son, Roy...

POINT OF VIEW: We can make it less profitable to traffic opioids

The president has declared what many of us experience first hand, the opioid epidemic is a national emergency. Frankly, with as many as 59,000 deaths in 2016, there doesn’t seem to be any other possible description. So many dedicated people in cities and towns, faith communities and schools, families and hospitals are fighting to save lives and help people escape addiction. But there are also...
Deadly kratom could add to opioid epidemic, FDA official says

Deadly kratom could add to opioid epidemic, FDA official says

The government — whether its federal, state or local — can’t seem to make up its mind about kratom, a substance sold at head shops, gas stations and kava bars that a Palm Beach County mother blames for her son’s death. Advocates say it can be a tool in fighting the opioid epidemic and is a safe pain reliever. Now the Food and Drug Administration has entered the mix, issuing...
Overdose-proof opioid? Scripps’ new drug could reduce deaths

Overdose-proof opioid? Scripps’ new drug could reduce deaths

Solving opioid addiction remains elusive as ever as doctors rely on weaning those physically and psychologically dependant on the drugs through troubling substitutes such as methadone and buprenorphine, which can be addictive in their own right. The lack of such a magic pill is readily apparent in the overflowing 12-step rooms and bodies piling up at the morgue from fatal overdoses. But Laura Bohn...
Heroin dealer convicted of manslaughter after buyer fatally overdoses 

Heroin dealer convicted of manslaughter after buyer fatally overdoses 

A drug dealer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after selling heroin to a man who later died of an overdose from the opioid.  April Thomas Guthrie, 34, was also convicted of delivery of heroin and was sentenced to three to five years, according to WNCT.  Kendal Walbert died of a heroin overdose in August 2014 after buying heroin from Thomas and co-defendant Michael Becker, who...
Boynton doctor practiced for 7 months after drug arrest, 4 OD deaths

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

Eighteen months ago, Boynton Beach Dr. Peter Katz took in an ex-patient — a homeless opioid addict. She overdosed in his home, dying later in the hospital. She was the fourth patient of his to die of an overdose in a two-year period, state health department documents show. Law enforcement caught up with Katz about eight months ago, charging him with unlawful prescribing of an opioid after Katz...
Why Palm Beach County is the ‘epicenter’ of the deadly opioid crisis

Why Palm Beach County is the ‘epicenter’ of the deadly opioid crisis

The opioid epidemic gripping the state hit epic proportions in 2016 with the largest number of heroin-related overdose deaths found in Palm Beach County for the second year in a row, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of state death data released on Wednesday. It is a crisis driven by deadly fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller said to be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Like throwing gasoline...
Mayor: State of county good but housing scarcity, opioids of concern

Mayor: State of county good but housing scarcity, opioids of concern

Palm Beach County’s economy is thriving, but the continuing scarcity of affordable housing and the spiraling opioid crisis are major concerns, County Mayor Paulette Burdick said Wednesday morning in her “State of the County” address. “Things are good in Palm Beach County,” Burdick said, “but we have some emerging issues.” Burdick noted that the county has...

POINT OF VIEW: Reduce the health care system’s dependence on opioids

There is good news to report in the battle to fight the opioid epidemic, and it’s coming from the people whose job it is to treat pain. We’re seeing the beginnings of a national, strategic approach from health care providers to rethink how pain is treated, supported by a variety of promising regional and local initiatives. There isn’t a moment to waste. The latest annual National...
DEA: Doctor dismissive of Wellington’s woman OD death from his fentanyl

DEA: Doctor dismissive of Wellington’s woman OD death from his fentanyl

When Dr. Johnny Clyde Benjamin heard one of his homemade fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone killed a Wellington woman, he retorted that she was just another “page in a large stack,” according to court documents. The Vero Beach spinal surgeon “did not seem too concerned about the death caused by the pills,” according to a special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration...
Doctor in Kenny Chatman case gets 4-year prison sentence

Doctor in Kenny Chatman case gets 4-year prison sentence

The last holdout in the notorious Kenny Chatman drug-treatment fraud case was sentenced Tuesday to four years in federal prison, short of the time prosecutors sought. Dr. Joaquin Mendez was the medical director for Chatman’s Reflections Treatment Center in Margate between September 2014 and September 2015, responsible for seeing patients and deciding their medical care. But he admitted...
NEW: West Palm man sentenced for distributing fentanyl-laced heroin

NEW: West Palm man sentenced for distributing fentanyl-laced heroin

A West Palm Beach man has been sentenced to more then eight years in federal prison for distributing fentanyl-laced heroin that resulted in the death of a 24-year-old New Jersey man, the U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday. Travis Reshard Preston, 38, was found guilty of five counts of distributing heroin to an undercover officer in August. Preston was sentenced to 102 months in prison, followed...
Lake Park man allegedly robbed neighbor’s home during Hurricane Irma

Lake Park man allegedly robbed neighbor’s home during Hurricane Irma

A Lake Park man is facing charges after he allegedly broke into a neighbor’s home and stole computers and TVs the day after Hurricane Irma struck South Florida, according to an arrest report. Justin Cantrell, 27, is facing charges of burglary of a dwelling during a state of emergency and grand theft between $300 and $5,000. Cantrell’s bail has not been set because he refused to show up...

POINT OF VIEW: The FDA is the one taking the opioid crisis seriously

The White House has so far completely botched the national response to the opioid epidemic. More than two months after President Donald Trump described the epidemic to reporters as a “national emergency” and a week after Trump promised to declare it so, the White House stopped short of that designation. Instead, it opted to declare a “public health emergency,” waiving some...
Mother finds heroin in 3-year-old’s Halloween Candy, police launch investigation

Mother finds heroin in 3-year-old’s Halloween Candy, police launch investigation

Authorities in Fayette County, West Virginia have launched an investigation after a woman found a packet of heroin in her 3-year-old child’s Halloween candy. Oak Hill Police Chief Mike Whisman said the woman was checking her child’s candy when she discovered a glove containing a wrapper with a substance inside, according to local news outlets. Investigators performed tests and confirmed...
Chatman drops appeal in sex trafficking, drug treatment fraud case

Chatman drops appeal in sex trafficking, drug treatment fraud case

Kenny Chatman, who trafficked women through his chain of corrupt sober homes and drug treatment centers, is no longer fighting his 27-year federal prison sentence. In court documents filed this month, his lawyer dropped his appeal, meaning Chatman likely will serve out the entirety of his sentence. He’ll be 74 when he’s released. Although Chatman forfeited the right to appeal his...
New father accused of selling heroin from maternity ward

New father accused of selling heroin from maternity ward

A new dad is accused of selling heroin from his family's room in the maternity ward. Cody Hulse's child was born Thursday and police say a few hours later, Hulse was arrested on accusations he was selling heroin out of the maternity ward.  Only Channel 11 was there as Hulse faced a judge Friday. On his way to jail, Channel 11 asked him what he had to say about the allegations. "I have an...
No water or power? No problem for addicts using drugs in treatment

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

Addicts living in sober homes operated by Bradley Vercosa complained that sometimes there was no running water, electricity, sheets, bowls or pillows but they stayed anyway because they paid no rent and were allowed to use drugs, according to a police report. Vercosa, 50, of Wellington, was one of six people arrested Thursday and charged with patient brokering, which includes accepting referral...
UPDATE: Sober home task force arrests six; total now tops 40

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

The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force arrested six sober home operators on patient brokering charges Thursday, including one who once worked for the Florida Association of Recovery Residences — the state contracted non-profit that certifies sober homes. All of the arrests are byproducts of cases filed earlier this year against the owners of treatment centers accused of paying sober...
Medical society joins fight against opioid epidemic in PBC

Medical society joins fight against opioid epidemic in PBC

After an unprecedented 590 opioid-related deaths in Palm Beach County in 2016, Palm Beach County doctors are joining the battle as a group against the opioid epidemic. The Palm Beach County Medical Society Services, a nonprofit that coordinates education and volunteer activities of the county Medical Society, held its first meeting this week to begin working on a medical plan to prevent overdose...
Bills seek pain prescription limits and help for addicted babies

Bills seek pain prescription limits and help for addicted babies

A bipartisan effort to combat the opioid epidemic is underway in Tallahassee with lawmakers having filed five bills that address the crisis from multiple fronts. Prescriptions - SB 458, filed by Sen. Aaron Beach, R-Jacksonville, would limit opioid prescriptions for temporary pain. The bill would allow a 30-day renewal of an opioid prescription after the initial seven-day prescription. The bill...
Best friend’s death inspires college scholarship for women in recovery

Best friend’s death inspires college scholarship for women in recovery

They were best friends since childhood, sticking together through good times and bad — from sleepovers, school dances and concerts to helping each other through their struggles with drug addiction. Amanda Marino went into recovery in 2007. She says she has been clean ever since. Her best friend, Kimberly Kinkle, fought hard to get sober. She was eight months clean when she relapsed...
Editorial: Florida needs to cap days that patients are put on opioids

Editorial: Florida needs to cap days that patients are put on opioids

It’s good to see Florida leaders join the growing trend toward limiting prescriptions for opioid painkillers. Last week, Gov. Rick Scott said he’ll ask lawmakers to impose a three-day limit on opioid prescriptions. A day later, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced he’ll seek a five-day limit when the Legislature convenes in January, a proposal hatched by the county&rsquo...
Should Florida use fentanyl to execute Death Row inmates?

Should Florida use fentanyl to execute Death Row inmates?

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

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

A preliminary hearing in federal court  for   Eric Snyder, owner and operator of a Delray Beach drug treatment center and sober home raided by the FBI in December 2014, has been delayed for 30 days to give attorneys time to “consider whether or not a pre-indictment resolution” can be worked out. Snyder was arrested on July 11 and charged with fraudulently...

POINT OF VIEW: How insurers can help fight the opioid epidemic

Of the 98 million Americans who take prescription opioids each year, almost 3 million receive their prescriptions from five to as many as 20 physicians. The practice, often called “doctor shopping,” allows opioid-addicted individuals to consume an enormous and dangerous number of pills with the unwitting help of doctors. Doctor shopping also lets drug dealers use the health care system...
Sober home task force seeks 5-day prescription limit, needle exchange

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

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

Three plead guilty to kickbacks in sober home schemes

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

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

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

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

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

POINT OF VIEW: Focus on good news in addiction treatment

Why is patient brokering, in the form of paying a referral, illegal? Because, as a matter of public health policy, we want citizens making their own health care choices, without unreasonable influence or inducement. We want our health care practitioners to endeavor to provide the highest quality of care and service based upon education, experience and earned reputation. If a health care provider can...
POINT OF VIEW: In the wake of Harvey, let’s not forget Heather

POINT OF VIEW: In the wake of Harvey, let’s not forget Heather

The month of August was a study of extremes in American citizenship. Selfless heroics by ordinary Texans stand in stark contrast to the hatred and bigotry on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. The events represent the best and worst of our society. As South Floridians, our hearts ache for those struggling in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Yet, while we bear witness to the horrific weather disaster...

POINT OF VIEW: The only safe way to treat opioid addicts

“I’m detoxing.” This is the sort of news that delights the families of patients who are addicted to heroin. The promise of a seven-day detox solution is seductive. But detoxification is actually extremely dangerous. Nearly every addict who successfully completes a week-long detox program without further treatment relapses, and in a world with increasingly powerful synthetic drugs...
Owner of facility linked to Kenny Chatman gets 14 year-sentence

Owner of facility linked to Kenny Chatman gets 14 year-sentence

The owner of a Broward County-based drug treatment center linked to Kenny Chatman was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to illegally prescribing drugs. Chatman had contracted with Richard Fernando Botero, the owner of Deerfield Medical Center and New Life Treatment Center, to provide treatment for patients at Chatman’s corrupt drug treatment center, Reflections...
Gratitude House: How a business venture doomed a beloved charity for pregnant addicts

Gratitude House: How a business venture doomed a beloved charity for pregnant addicts

Gratitude House, one of the few nonprofit drug treatment centers in the country that welcomed poor, pregnant drug addicts and newborns, closed quickly and quietly in June amid an unprecedented drug epidemic and a staggering surge in the number of babies born addicted to drugs. Residents were told simply that mold had been found in the dormitory, and that they would have to leave. Gratitude House&rsquo...

POINT OF VIEW: Clinic to be a neighbor delivering medicine

Recently, there has been some discussion about the location of a dispensary that Modern Health Concepts is opening in Lake Worth because of its proximity to a public charter school, the Academy for Positive Learning. In an effort to be a good community partner and resolve this issue with our neighbors, Modern Health Concepts has refrained from litigating this matter in the press; but, now we feel...
U.S. Rep. Brian Mast to hold town hall meeting in Jupiter

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast to hold town hall meeting in Jupiter

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-Palm City) plans a town hall meeting on Thursday in Jupiter The Jupiter Community Center, 200 Military Trail, is the site for a town hall meeting Thursday from 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. with U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, (R-Palm City). The meeting is free and open to the public. Reservations are suggested. To make a reservation or for information, go to ...
Woman sells fentanyl as heroin, faces attempted murder charge

Woman sells fentanyl as heroin, faces attempted murder charge

A Fort Pierce woman is facing an attempted murder charge after she sold fentanyl to a man who then overdosed, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. After the man collapsed in front of her, Rebecca Lindsey Miggins allegedly left the hotel room they were in without either assisting the man or calling for help. Miggins, 32, allegedly sold the drugs to the man claiming it was...

POINT OF VIEW: Battle opioid crisis by treating pain without narcotics

The misuse of opioids, including prescription pain relievers, has led to an explosion of narcotic addiction and narcotic-related deaths. It is now considered an epidemic. Physicians are thought to be a major contributor to this increase in addiction, as they readily prescribe narcotics for pain relief following injury and surgery, leading to an increase of people who are becoming addicted to these...

POINT OF VIEW: Florida must step up the war on opioids

Another life was recently taken by opioids. Unlike most other victims, this one was a 10-year-old boy. Just like any bright summer day, Alton walked to his community’s pool to play with his friends. After returning home, he immediately became violently sick, vomiting and losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Fentanyl was found in his system. This young boy did not take...
Sober Homes Task Force arrest two on patient brokering charges

Sober Homes Task Force arrest two on patient brokering charges

Two more drug treatment center owners were arrested Friday on multiple counts of patient brokering, bringing the total number of people arrested by the State Attorney’s Sober Homes Task Force to 32. Nick Cirio, 38, was arrested on 10 counts of patient brokering, a second-degree felony that carries a $100,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison. Evan Rodriguez, 43, was arrested on 53 counts of...
Delray Beach doctor gets probation in pill mill racketeering case

Delray Beach doctor gets probation in pill mill racketeering case

A 71-year-old suburban Delray Beach doctor who authorities say was involved in a prescription drug trafficking ring has been sentenced to two years of house arrest and an additional three years’ probation. Sherri Pinsley pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single charge of sale or transfer of prescription drugs to an unauthorized person. Her Coral Gables attorney, Brian Bieber, said Wednesday that...
Kenny Chatman case: Federal court hearing cancelled pending settlement

Kenny Chatman case: Federal court hearing cancelled pending settlement

A federal court hearing this morning to decide just how many millions Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman will have to pay back to insurance companies he defrauded with his corrupt drug treatment centers has been cancelled, pending a settlement that has not yet been announced. The number could have been eight figures, after Chatman admitted that his phony treatment centers — Reflections in Broward...
President Trump: ‘Nobody is safe’ from opioid epidemic

President Trump: ‘Nobody is safe’ from opioid epidemic

President Donald Trump today called the opioid epidemic “a tremendous problem” in the U.S., while calling for measures to “prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place.” Speaking from his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Trump was joined for the briefing by first lady Melania Trump, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, key advisers Kellyanne...
Lawmakers get ‘stunning’ primer on Palm Beach County’s opioid crisis

Lawmakers get ‘stunning’ primer on Palm Beach County’s opioid crisis

Florida Senate Appropriations Chairman and potential governor candidate Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, visited hard-hit Palm Beach County on Tuesday to learn about the state’s opioid crisis and said what he heard was “stunning.” At the invitation of County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and state Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, Latvala came to the Lake Worth campus of Palm...
NEW: First lady Melania Trump attends ‘major’ opioid briefing

NEW: First lady Melania Trump attends ‘major’ opioid briefing

First lady Melania Trump attended an opioid meeting that President Donald Trump described as a “major briefing,” after announcing her plans Tuesday morning on Twitter. The meeting happened Tuesday afternoon at Trump’s home at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, and featured several top administration officials including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, ...
Getting paid 6 cents an hour? Judge in Chatman case says that’s too low

Getting paid 6 cents an hour? Judge in Chatman case says that’s too low

One of the longest-serving employees at Kenny Chatman’s corrupt drug treatment operation won’t have to pay restitution while she serves her seven-year prison sentence, a federal judge ruled today. Fransesia “Francine” Davis is currently making a measly 12 cents an hour working in a prison cafeteria, with no help from her family to afford basic commissary items. At that rate...
Christie commentary: Having Narcan on hand could save a child’s life

Christie commentary: Having Narcan on hand could save a child’s life

It’s understandable that the tragic death last month of a Miami-Dade County fifth-grader who somehow came in contact with the powerful drug fentanyl has raised concerns among some Florida public school district officials about the health and safety of students. A child is dead. Not an adult struggling with addiction. An innocent child. We can count Chuck Shaw among those concerned. The Palm...
Christie: Narcan worth considering in PBC schools, board chairman says

Christie: Narcan worth considering in PBC schools, board chairman says

Palm Beach County School Board Chairman Chuck Shaw says the country’s growing opioid crisis may force the school district to consider stocking the anti-overdose drug, Narcan, on school campuses. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post) The tragic death earlier this month of a Miami-Dade County fifth-grader after he somehow came in contact with the powerful drug, fentanyl...
NEW: Security guard accused of selling Fentanyl to sheriff’s informant

NEW: Security guard accused of selling Fentanyl to sheriff’s informant

A Boynton Beach woman who works as a security guard in West Palm Beach sold $200 worth of Fentanyl and crack cocaine to a confidential informant of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, according to a police report. Ashely Clarke, 27, sold the informant the drugs July 14 at the McDonald’s on Kanner Highway just east of Interstate 95, investigators said. She faces charges of possession and...

POINT OF VIEW State must take reins on health care, opioid crises

As national controversies continue to swirl, most Floridians I meet are focused on the issues that matter most to their family’s well-being: health care, the economy and public education. They’re concerned about whether they will still have access to health care as they struggle to make ends meet. They keep asking me: Why isn’t health care a right? I certainly believe it is, and...
Post’s Pat Beall named state’s Journalist of the Year

Post’s Pat Beall named state’s Journalist of the Year

Palm Beach Post staff writers received nine honors, including Journalist of the Year, at the Society of Professional Journalist’s Sunshine State Awards ceremony Saturday at the University of Miami. Post investigative reporter Pat Beall won Journalist of the Year for her work on The Post’s coverage of the heroin crisis, including profiles of the 216 people who died in 2015 from heroin-related...
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...
Should OD rescues be limited? Questions rise as Narcan’s cost soars

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...
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...
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