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.
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 also...
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 Conway...
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...
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...
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