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Boynton continues temporary ban on new sober homes

Boynton Beach is continuing its six-month ban on new group homes including sober homes, and on Tuesday gave residents a chance to speak out against the move. But no one did.

The city commissioners first approved the moratorium Dec. 6.

The city’s staff requested the halt to have time to review the updated guidelines pertaining to group homes released Nov. 10 by the federal departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development, and see whether changes need to be made to city regulations.

The temporary ban went into effect with the Dec. 6 approval. But the moratorium has been on the agenda for each commission meeting since, to give the public an opportunity to speak about it. The last time there will be a public hearing about the moratorium is at the Jan. 17 commission meeting.

Boynton Beach is the first municipality to introduce a moratorium and has recieved both praise and criticism for doing so. In December, Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein said the move was unconstitutional and won’t survive a legal challenge.

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

So far 10 people have been arrested in Palm Beach County on patient brokering charges, prompting the State Attorney’s Office to crack down on sober homes.

Florida law forbids drug-treatment centers from paying a commission, bonus, rebate, kickback or bribe for new patients. To get patients with insurance to enroll in their programs, however, treatment center operators pay “case-management fees” to sober-home operators, who provide a roof over an addict’s head but no medical services.

Many who work at sober homes do not know the practice is illegal because it has become very common, authorities say.

Other sober-home operators have been linked to fraud, such as Kenny Chatman in Lake Worth, who was arrested in December after accused of scheming to file fraudulent insurance claim forms and license applications to defraud insurance companies, according to federal officials. He is one of six people charged in the operation.

Read The Post’s 2015 investigation of Kenneth Chatman.

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