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Doctor in Chatman case caught working for drug treatment center


Click for complete sober homes coverage

Dr. Donald Willems, one of two doctors charged with insurance fraud at notorious drug treatment programs operated by Kenneth Chatman, was re-arrested on Friday and accused of violating the conditions of his bond.

According to court records unsealed Friday afternoon, Willems continued working for a drug treatment facility, wrote prescriptions without a license and had contact with witnesses — all in violation of the terms of his $100,000 bond.

Willems will be held without bail until a bond hearing on March 15.

Willems is one of two doctors charged with ordering unnecessary urine drug tests for addicts enrolled in Chatman’s treatment centers, Reflections and Journey to Recovery.

Chatman and several alleged co-conspirators also operated numerous sober homes, including Stay’n Alive, Redemption Sober House and Total Recovery Sober Living, and an unnamed facility at 962 W. 43rd St., West Palm Beach.

All the facilities were in business to provide safe and drug-free residences for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, an industry fueled by a nationwide heroin epidemic.

Read Post’s 2015 investigation of Kenneth Chatman

But federal prosecutors, who have been investigating the industry in South Florida for more than two years, say they were more akin to fraud machines that engaged in human trafficking.

Details in the federal complaint against Chatman allege a variety of insurance fraud schemes, including taking employees’ urine and pretending it was from patients, federal officials said.

Chatman pimped out female clients, keeping them under close watch in an old home in Mangonia Park, where the windows where screwed shut, according to court records. He kept his patients’ phones and car keys in his office, so they couldn’t call family to help them escape.

None of Chatman’s operations were possible without doctors who signed off on urine drug screens. Insurance companies have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for such tests, which are now the focus of federal and state insurance fraud and patient brokering investigations.

MORE ONLINE: Read The Post’s complete coverage of the sober-home industry.

Before his involvement with Chatman, Willems had ties to pills mills.

State regulators, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office raided Willems’ workplace — Pompano Beach Pain Management — in 2012, according to a state complaint filed this year.

In the complaint charging him with six felonies, he is accused of writing 24,011 prescriptions in less than 13 months, including about 13,400 prescriptions for oxycodone, morphine or hydromorphone.

Willems also admitted to investigators he left signed, blank prescription forms for the clinic’s owner to fill out. Deputies reported finding 85 such slips in the office. Four years later, that case is still working its way through the courts.

Another doctor who worked for Chatman, Dr. Joaquin Mendez, also faces more charges, include conspiracy to commit health care fraud, giving a false statement relating to health-care fraud and money laundering.

Although three of the seven charged in the case have pleaded guilty and Chatman and his wife, Laura, also intend plan to plead guilty — Mendez wants a trial, according to court papers.

That trial is at least six months away. According to Mendez’s attorney, Richard Lubin, there is a “massive” amount of evidence gathered in the case — more than Lubin said he has seen in 42 years of practice.

How much evidence?

  • 326 gigabytes of digital records copied onto an encrypted hard drive.
  • 236,245 digital files organized into 8,307 folders.
  • 16,064 records in 133 files of patient data.
  • 1,719 patient case files with as many as 600 pages in each file.
  • 30 FBI taped interviews.
  • 225 boxes of paper documents that prosecutors say will take six to eight weeks to copy

Federal prosecutors agreed to a six month continuance in the case. Lubin said he will likely need more time than that.



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