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Feds started banging on doors at 5 a.m., launching sober home raid

Residents at the rundown, two-story apartment building at 1501 N. Federal Hwy. said federal agents surrounded the building and began banging on their doors at about 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Agents questioned the residents and arrested Fransesia “Francine” Davis, the resident manager.

Residents, who asked not to be identified because of their fear of sober home operator Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman, said they were not allowed access to their prescription medication, such as buprenorphine, which is prescribed to prevent addicts from going into withdrawal and help wean them off drugs.

Instead, during normal operations, Davis dispensed their medications. One resident recalled Davis selling the medications.

“It’s a flop house,” said one resident. For a resident with insurance, weekly rent was $50. “You can get high here.”

Federal officials arrested Chatman and five others Wednesday and charged them in an ongoing investigation of sober home abuses in Palm Beach County, the first federal charges since the FBI began investigating more than two years ago.

Residents said they were driven to Chatman’s outpatient treatment center, Journey to Recovery on South Military Trail in Lake Worth, six days a week. Their urine was tested for drugs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but the specimens were flushed down the toilet, they said. They were not provided transportation to 12-step meetings, a common practice in many sober homes.

The building became a sober home after it was bought by 1501 N. Federal LLC in March for $323,550. Michael Kodsi, listed in state corporate records as the authorized member of the company, said he was horrified to learn about the raid. Kodsi, who said he owns multiple rental properties, said he knew the building would be used as a sober home but did not know Chatman or others who were arrested.

“I have zero affiliation with these people,” Kodsi said, adding that he intended to evict the tenants. “I don’t need fraudsters in my property.”

Kodsi said he uses property managers to oversee his properties and handle leases: “I am not a hands-on kind of guy.”

He said his property manager told him the tenant who signed the lease was Davis.

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