A husband and wife who operate a drug treatment center and sober homes were arrested on Thursday and charged with depositing checks payable to a doctor who did not work for them into their companies’ accounts.
James Durkin, 37, was charged with 13 counts of forgery. His wife, Jaclyn Sue Durkin, 29, of Boca Raton, was charged with two counts of forgery.
Although the checks were made out to a doctor who did not work for them, the back of the checks were stamped with “FOR DEPOSIT ONLY” to Hope Center for Rehabilitation LLC” or for deposit to another company James Durkin controls, Relapse Prevention LLC. According to the arrest report, James Durkin, who founded both companies in 2013 and 2014, endorsed some of the checks.
The checks, payments from insurance companies to a doctor for treatment of recovering addicts, totaled $37,500.
His wife is not a corporate officer in either company. However, bank security video shows her depositing two checks into the companies’ accounts, the report states.
Investigators raided two sober homes, not identified in police reports, and the office of Hope Center for Rehabilitation at 2828 S. Seacrest Blvd. James Durkin was led out of the offices in handcuffs.
An employee who asked not to be named, was shocked by his boss’s arrest. Durkin is a “good Christian family man” who “bent over backwards” for the addicts enrolled in his treatment program, the employee said.
“I don’t trust many people in this industry but I trust him,” the employee said. “If there was one place I would have bet on it was this place.”
Of the 14 arrests made by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force since October, all but the Durkins have been charged with patient brokering.
A two-year-long investigation by the Palm Beach Post found that testing the urine of recovering addicts is so lucrative that treatment centers pay sober homes for patients, a practice the state attorney’s office says violates Florida’s patient brokering law.
The Durkins’ cases are also the among the oldest. The alleged forgeries occurred in 2014 — which answers the question some drug treatment operators have been asking: How far back will the Sober Home Task Force go in rooting out fraud?
The Durkins’ arrests come amid the busiest week for state and federal task forces investigating corruption in South Florida’s drug treatment industry.
In federal court on Monday, Stefan Gatt pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Gatt’s was the first of seven arrested and charged with a scheme to defraud insurance companies operated by Kenneth Chatman to plead guilty.
On Tuesday, Michael Bonds, another member of Chatman’s treatment empire, also pleaded guilty to the same charge. Both face up to five years in prison.
On Wednesday, the task force arrested James Tomasso on 25 charges of patient brokering. According to the arrest report, Tomasso, who has two prior felony fraud convictions, paid more than $68,000 to a sober home operator for clients.
Today, Dr. Donald Willems, a medical director at Chatman’s treatment centers, is scheduled to take a plea deal.
What The Post Found
For two years, Palm Beach Post investigative reporters have exposed questionable practices in the lucrative addiction treatment industry in Palm Beach County. The arrests Thursday brought the total since October to 21. Read our investigation at myPalmBeachP0ost.com/soberhomes