No water or power? No problem for addicts using drugs in treatment

Addicts living in sober homes operated by Bradley Vercosa complained that sometimes there was no running water, electricity, sheets, bowls or pillows but they stayed anyway because they paid no rent and were allowed to use drugs, according to a police report.

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Vercosa, 50, of Wellington, was one of six people arrested Thursday and charged with patient brokering, which includes accepting referral fees from drug treatment centers for enrolling addicts in their program or inducing addicts to live in a sober home by offering free rent, airfare, cigarettes, movie passes and other gifts.

The industry, fueled by insurance payments for unnecessary urine tests, grew so lucrative in recent years that treatment center operators found ways to make such payments to ensure a steady flow of patients.

Vercosa operated eight sober homes in West Palm Beach, Lantana, Lake Worth and Delray Beach where he housed 30 to 40 addicts, police said. Informants told investigators that Vercosa hired house managers who used drugs and allowed residents to continue using drugs as long as they enrolled in drug treatment programs recommended by Vercosa.

One house manager cautioned addicts not to use crack cocaine or opioids while living at the sober home but marijuana and benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan, were permitted, police said. As for urine drug tests, one addict said the house manager would provide clean urine samples for the addicts who used drugs, police said.

Since February 2016, police responded to four overdoses and two reports of drug activity at Vercosa’s sober home at 621 Casper Ave. in West Palm Beach, the report said.

Vercosa received as much as $1,000 for every addict he enrolled at drug treatment programs and hundreds more for every week they remained in treatment. One informant told investigators that he saw David Remland, one of the owners of Good Future treatment center in Delray Beach, give Vercosa a check for $12,000 for referring addicts.

State and federal investigators raided Good Future in December. Remland and two other owners have been arrested on charges of patient brokering.

James Tomasso, a treatment center operator arrested in February, told investigators that he had a marketing agreement with Vercosa and paid him thousands of dollars to enroll residents of Vercosa’s sober homes into his treatment programs.

Vercosa also used another business he operates, Pawn & Cash at 3377 S. Federal Highway in Boynton Beach, as a meeting place where he paid house managers and addicts who had brought in new residents, police reported.

RELATED: Medical society joins fight against opioid epidemic in Palm Beach County

Vercosa’s bail was set at $150,000. In addition, he was prohibited from working in a drug treatment business.

Since making its first arrest on Oct. 25, 2016, the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force has arrested 41 sober home and drug treatment operators on charges of insurance fraud and patient brokering.

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