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UPDATE: Ex-PBSO deputy bonds out of jail on patient-brokering charges

A former Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy arrested Tuesday on patient-brokering charges has been released from the county jail.

West Palm Beach police say Robert “Bobby” Simeone, 46, posted $45,000 bond late Tuesday, hours after his arrest. He is accused of paying two sober home owners hundreds of dollars a week to send their residents last year to his center, Epiphany’s Treatment Center.

READ: Complete coverage of sober homes in Palm Beach County

Florida law prohibits treatment providers to pay a commission, a bonus, a kickback, or a bribe for new patients. Treatment centers can then collect large payments from insurance companies for repeated tests of patients’ urine.

The Post conducted an extensive addiction-treatment investigation in Palm Beach County, exposing how treatment centers make millions of dollars from insurance companies. At least 20 people have been arrested from treatment centers and sober homes in Palm Beach County, with many facing patient brokering charges.

READ: Addiction treatment bonanza: How urine tests rake in millions

An owner of a sober home in West Palm Beach’s Flamingo Park neighborhood said he had a “verbal” agreement with Simeone to send him patients, according to an arrest report made public late Tuesday. The other sober home owner, whose name was not released in the arrest report, said he had a “handshake agreement” with Simeone and got four checks from Epiphany’s, at the intersection of Palm Beach Lakes and Village boulevards.

Investigators found that between July and November 2016 that the owner of Recovery Rocks, a West Palm Beach sober home, got 11 checks worth almost $4,000 from Epiphany’s.

Simeone left PBSO 10 years as a deputy to open Epiphany’s on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard. During his time as a deputy, he was accused twice of harassing waitresses, with one one case resulting in a two-week suspension. He also ran for a State House seat in 2016, losing to Republican Rick Roth.

The Post has extensively reported on addiction treatment in Palm Beach County, an estimated $1 billion industry. At least 20 other people have been charged from treatment centers and sober homes, and many of those were arrested on patient brokering charges. A federal task force has arrested another eight operators. Aside from patient brokering, federal prosecutors exposed labs making payments to treatment centers to encourage a steady flow of business.

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