Sober home task force raid nets 20th arrest


The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force made its 20th arrest on Wednesday, charging Steve Johnson with 48 counts of patient brokering, alleging he paid referral fees to sober home operators for insured addicts.

Johnson, 45, a 1990 graduate of Wellington High School, was being booked into the Palm Beach County Detention Center on Wednesday morning as agents raided Palm Beach Recovery & Wellness, 6600 S. Dixie Highway, and his home in Palm Springs.

Johnson and his wife, Melissa, are the officers of Palm Beach Recovery & Wellness, an outpatient treatment center, according to state corporate records. Melissa Johnson has not been charged.

Read the arrest report

According to the arrest report, Johnson operated his sober home business, Reel Recovery, out of his office on Dixie Highway. Residents of Reel Recovery lived in buildings behind Johnson’s home at 3152 Drew Way in Palm Springs, according to the arrest report.

During a search of that property on Feb. 23, investigators found bank records that showed Johnson drafted 48 checks for $95,445 in referral fees to a person whose name was blacked out on the arrest report.

The 7-month-long investigation by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force has revealed treatment centers paying referral fees or kickbacks to sober home operators for enrolling insured addicts living in their sober homes in drug treatment programs.

Unscrupulous drug treatment operators have made hundreds of millions of dollars by billing insurance companies for unnecessary urine drug screens and other tests.

The Johnsons also operate Living Right sober homes in Lake Worth, according to corporate records. B Street 107, a corporation created by the couple, purchased a home at that address in Lake Worth in December 2015. B Street 101, another company created by the couple, purchased a home at that address in February 2016.

On Feb. 10, the couple dissolved PB Precision Labs, a business that operated out of its offices on Dixie Highway, which were raided on Wednesday.

A judge will set bond for Steve Johnson at a court hearing today.

WHAT THE POST REPORTED

The addiction treatment industry in Palm Beach County is the fourth-largest — generating, conservatively, about $1 billion a year. It was all built on urine testing. Since The Palm Beach Post began investigating, state and federal authorities have arrested dozens of people.



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