You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

breaking news

PBSO probes Lake Worth fight involving ‘Cash me Ousside’ teen

Drug treatment CEO arrested on 93 counts of patient brokering

The owner of a Delray Beach drug treatment center raided in December was arrested Thursday on 93 counts of patient brokering for allegedly paying kickbacks to sober home owners who enrolled insured addicts his treatment program. Daniel Kandler, 41, owner of Chapters Recovery - formerly known as Good Future Recovery - was arrested on Thursday morning by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force...
Inside the Gold Rush

For addicts and alcoholics seeking sobriety, Palm Beach County is ground zero.

Celebrities and pro athletes fly in on private jets. Millennials addicted to heroin and designer drugs are delivered by worried parents. It's a billion dollar industry chiefly fueled by pee in a cup. Yet the industry faces a huge bust if an FBI task force finds evidence of kickbacks, insurance fraud and patient brokering.

The Palm Beach Post takes a hard look at the recovery boom at a make-or-break juncture.

How a new rule could help Gardens keep tabs on sober homes

How a new rule could help Gardens keep tabs on sober homes

When a sober home isn’t helping their patients get better, there’s not much officials in Palm Beach Gardens or any other city can do. But that could soon change. Addiction is classified as a disability under federal law, so people who are in recovery are protected by the Fair Housing and Americans With Disabilities Acts. When a municipality’s regulations are challenged, the U.S....
Boca Raton treatment center owner charged with patient brokering

Boca Raton treatment center owner charged with patient brokering

UPDATE: A judge set bond on Thursday at $75,000 for James Tomasso, a drug treatment owner with two prior fraud convictions and 25 new charges of patient brokering. However, before Tomasso can post bail, he must prove at a court hearing Friday that money to be used to get out of jail did not come from illegal activities. Tomasso, 57, was arrested on Wednesday after the Palm Beach County Sober Home...
2nd sober home owner linked to Chatman pleads guilty to health fraud

2nd sober home owner linked to Chatman pleads guilty to health fraud

The owner of Redemption sober homes in Delray Beach on Tuesday pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud for accepting $240,000 in kickbacks from Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman, who is accused in a wide-ranging scheme to use people in recovery to rip off insurance companies. Michael Bonds, who said he completed a 28-day drug and alcohol treatment program in 2006 before opening...
Body-builder pleads guilty to role in massive sober house scheme

Body-builder pleads guilty to role in massive sober house scheme

A model and body-builder who worked as a salesman for a Boca Raton medical laboratory pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy to commit health-care fraud in connection with what federal prosecutors claim was a far-reaching scheme to use people in recovery to bilk insurance companies out of millions. Stefan Gatt’s plea indicates that those who worked with Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman, who...
Live via video feed: Doctors treating addicts

Live via video feed: Doctors treating addicts

The next big thing in drug treatment: Telemedicine. Among the topics that kicked off the annual meeting of the Addiction Industry Executive Summit in Naples last week was using the internet to remotely treat recovering addicts. Telemedicine allows doctors and therapists to communicate with patients via live video — similar to Skype or Facetime. According to the American Medical Association,...
Bodybuilder pleads not guilty in fraud scheme tied to drug treatment

Bodybuilder pleads not guilty in fraud scheme tied to drug treatment

Stefan Gatt, accused of participating in a drug treatment fraud scheme orchestrated by Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman, pleaded not guilty today in federal court. Federal prosecutors said last week that Gatt, a 27-year-old bodybuilder charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, collected urine and saliva samples from Chatman’s two drug treatment centers, Journey...

POINT OF VIEW: We need community-based solutions to fight drug abuse

If you think drug misuse and abuse doesn’t affect the business community, think again. From 2000 to 2010 there was a dramatic increase in opioid addiction statewide, with Broward County having the highest number of consequences. Unfortunately, the problem still persists today with 401 hospital admissions for opioid overdoses in Broward County during 2013, the most current reporting year. Among...
Treatment center operator Kenny Chatman indicted, pleads not guilty

Treatment center operator Kenny Chatman indicted, pleads not guilty

Addiction treatment center operator Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman on Thursday pleaded not guilty to a sweeping 17-count indictment that accuses him of money laundering, health care fraud and sex trafficking, charges that could send him to prison for life. The indictment, handed up Tuesday, showcases federal prosecutors plans to shut down what they called the 46-year-old suburban Boynton Beach...

State preparing to battle opioid crisis

One after another, politicians, policy makers, police and scientists stepped up to a podium during a news conference in Tallahassee on Wednesday and tried to find words to reflect the dire state of Florida’s opioid crisis. “This is truly, after 33 years of tracking drug trends in the state of Florida, the most rapidly rising and critical crisis in our lifetime and in the history of Florida...
Despite pill mill arrest, doctor free to get into drug rehab business

Despite pill mill arrest, doctor free to get into drug rehab business

When investigators with the Florida Department of Health and Broward County Sheriff’s Office descended on a Pompano Beach pain clinic in 2012 to search for evidence of crime, Dr. Donald Willems was ready to talk. The osteopathic physician admitted to signing blank prescriptions for powerful painkillers such as oxycodone. He admitted to letting a clinic manager fill them out, for patients he...
Despite losing grant, health district will help addicts with treatment

Despite losing grant, health district will help addicts with treatment

A month after learning it would not receive an $8.2 million grant to provide drug treatment to wean addicts off heroin, the Palm Beach County Health Care District is quickly moving forward with a scaled down version of its original plan. The taxpayer-financed district, which provides health care to the poor and uninsured, hopes to have the pilot project in place by the end of February. Efforts...
Woman charged in sober home crackdown takes deal, avoids prison

Woman charged in sober home crackdown takes deal, avoids prison

The only woman — and youngest — of 11 people charged with patient brokering at a Boynton Beach treatment center pleaded guilty to the charges on Monday, the first case disposed of since the Sober Home Task Force began making arrests in October. Amanda LaFrance, 25, pleaded guilty to four counts of patient brokering, all felonies, and one count of attempted patient brokering, a misdemeanor...
Heroin task force launches 2 initiatives, contemplates needle exchange

Heroin task force launches 2 initiatives, contemplates needle exchange

After a seemingly late and slow start over the summer, efforts of the Palm Beach County Heroin Task Force are gaining traction and support — with two major initiatives poised to launch this month. At a task force meeting on Thursday, task force leaders said a pilot program aimed at providing immediate detox and treatment for addicts who have overdosed and are taken to a hospital emergency...
BREAKING: 11th arrest made in local sober home crackdown

BREAKING: 11th arrest made in local sober home crackdown

The operator of a sober home in Boynton Beach was arrested on Wednesday and charged with patient brokering — the 11th arrest made by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force since October. Leonard Reginald Dobard, 49, owner of House of Chance at 309 SE 36th Ave. in Boynton Beach, accepted 10 checks totalling $3,102 from Whole Life Recovery for enrolling residents living in his sober home...

Free rent to lure sober home customers faces crackdown

One of Palm Beach County’s top prosecutors on Tuesday issued a stark statement to South Florida’s lucrative drug and alcohol treatment community: The way you’ve been operating is illegal. For years, the county’s billion-dollar industry has treated addicts as if they were mules lured by a farmer’s carrots, with owners of sober homes and treatment centers enticing them...
Palm Beach County wants state help with homelessness, opioid epidemic

Palm Beach County wants state help with homelessness, opioid epidemic

Santa Claus has come and gone, but Palm Beach County officials made a list, checked it twice and are hoping the state government will determine its priorities aren’t naughty but nice. Certainly, those priorities and wish list items aren’t cheap: Commissioners and legislators from the county met at the Palm Beach County Convention Center Wednesday to go over the fine points of a $47 million...
Boynton continues temporary ban on new sober homes

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...
Post’s sober home, heroin coverage kickstarts official action

Post’s sober home, heroin coverage kickstarts official action

In 2016, officials took the first steps to clean up the fraud-ridden addiction treatment industry and curb the alarming rise of lives cut short by heroin-related overdoses. Every level of government — local, state and federal — acted after The Palm Beach Post’s 18 months of exclusive reporting on the addiction treatment industry and its special report Nov. 20 report, Heroin...
From Donald Trump to Dalia Dippolito: Palm Beach County’s top stories

From Donald Trump to Dalia Dippolito: Palm Beach County’s top stories

The next president of the United States has a place right here. And that’s just part of a wild news year in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. Here are the area’s top 10 stories, as determined, and chronicled, by Post editors and reporters, with help from statistics on how popular news stories were with readers. 1. President Trump: It’s one of the most shocking upsets in U...
Suspect in drug treatment fraud released on house arrest

Suspect in drug treatment fraud released on house arrest

One of the six people arrested as part of an alleged drug treatment fraud scheme reportedly orchestrated by Kenny Chatman was allowed to be released on bond on Thursday. Fransesia “Francine” Davis, 44, will be confined to house arrest after her father and aunt posted her $250,000 bond. She will live with her aunt and won’t be allowed to leave the house except to go to court, meet...
Evidence of sex slavery cited to keep treatment center owner jailed

Evidence of sex slavery cited to keep treatment center owner jailed

After one woman went to police about notorious drug treatment center owner Kenny Chatman, she said his employees took her away in a van and gave her a choice: sign something recanting her statement, or be killed. Investigators last week found evidence backing up her claim. In Chatman’s office safe was her signed statement, witnessed by a notary, according to a Tuesday court filing signed...
Patient-brokering charges against treatment center CEO ramped up to 95

Patient-brokering charges against treatment center CEO ramped up to 95

Already arrested on a handful of patient brokering charges in October, addiction treatment center executive James Kigar is now facing a total of 95 separate criminal counts linked to cashing in on recovering addicts. The spate of extra patient-brokering allegations were filed Dec. 20, according to court records, less than a week after a ninth arrest was made in connection with what prosecutors...

POINT OF VIEW Grand jury’s sober home report lacks balance

The Palm Beach Post’s Dec. 13 story, “Sober home report cites patient abuse,” accepted without question the grand jury’s “Report on the Proliferation of Fraud and Abuse in Florida’s Addiction Treatment Industry.” I believe grand juries can and do perform important functions, but they need to be “fair and balanced”. The report correctly concludes...
Feds look to charge sober home operator with overdose deaths

Feds look to charge sober home operator with overdose deaths

A suburban Boynton Beach man who built a phony drug treatment empire despite having a felony record and just an 11th-grade education may soon face possible life sentences for overdose deaths that occurred at sober homes he operated throughout Palm Beach County, a federal prosecutor said Thursday. A day after Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman, the subject of an investigaton by The Palm Beach Post...
UPDATE: Subject of Post investigation arrested in sober home fraud

UPDATE: Subject of Post investigation arrested in sober home fraud

A drug treatment center operator exposed by The Palm Beach Post for his ties to prostitution was among six people arrested and charged Wednesday in a wide-ranging health-care fraud scheme that reveals the sordid underbelly of the drug treatment industry. Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman, 46, and his wife, Laura, 44, were among six people named in a federal complaint alleging a variety of insurance...
Subject of Post investigation arrested in sober home fraud

Subject of Post investigation arrested in sober home fraud

A sober home operator linked to prostitution and fraud is among six people arrested and charged Wednesday in a wide-ranging health-care fraud scheme that details the sordid underbelly of the drug treatment industry as exposed in stories by The Palm Beach Post over the past year. Kenny Chatman, 46, of Boynton Beach is one of six people named in a federal complaint alleging a scheme to file fraudulent...
Delray to Boynton: Your moratorium on sober homes is ‘unconstitutional’

Delray to Boynton: Your moratorium on sober homes is ‘unconstitutional’

Delray Beach and Boynton Beach differ on their attempts to regulate group homes that include sober homes, causing some tension between the neighboring cities in southern Palm Beach County. Earlier this month, Boynton issued a six-month moratorium on group homes, saying staff needs time to understand and evaluate recently updated federal guidelines. On Monday, Delray Beach’s mayor called the...
Lake Worth sober home owner charged with patient brokering

Lake Worth sober home owner charged with patient brokering

The owner of a Lake Worth sober home was arrested in Broward County today on charges on patient brokering for allegedly accepting payments from a treatment center for each addict he enrolled in the center’s programs. Alex Vandervert, owner of Saje House, received $3,335 from Whole Life Recovery for providing case management services to four residents living at Saje House, according...

POINT OF VIEW End the stigma of addiction and treatment

Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding addiction and addiction treatment stops too many of the 24 million Americans who struggle with drugs or alcohol from getting the help they need. In fact, only 2 million seek treatment. We want to change that. That is why we recently launched the “We Do Recover” movement with the goal of saving lives by ending the stigma. We are doing this in several...
Grand jury proposes sweeping sober home industry reforms

Grand jury proposes sweeping sober home industry reforms

A three-month grand jury investigation into corruption in the drug treatment industry — believed to be the first in the country — uncovered evidence of sexual abuse, human trafficking and forced labor in addition to patient brokering and insurance fraud. The 37-page report proposes 15 sweeping proposals to change laws and increase criminal penalties for the exploitation of addicts seeking...
Frankel lends an ear to locals on opioid epidemic: ‘It’s overwhelming’

Frankel lends an ear to locals on opioid epidemic: ‘It’s overwhelming’

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel wanted to hear about the region’s opioid epidemic so she hosted a community forum in Delray Beach on Friday. She got an earful of bad news. “It’s overwhelming,” Frankel said, shaking her head. “I don’t think most people understand this.” In Delray Beach, the heroin epidemic has gotten so bad that the chiefs of police and fire rescue...
Delray treatment center raided by Sober Home Task Force

Delray treatment center raided by Sober Home Task Force

The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force raided a Delray Beach treatment center on Tuesday and left with boxes sealed with evidence tape. The three-hour long raid at Chapters Recovery, formerly known as Good Future Recovery, yielded no arrests. The treatment center, located at 2230 W. Atlantic Ave., provides intensive outpatient treatment and partial hospitalization programs for addicts in early...
Patient brokering arrests: Woman, 25, youngest to be charged

Patient brokering arrests: Woman, 25, youngest to be charged

Amanda LaFrance came to Florida three years ago to get clean and sober and found herself in court Saturday facing 13 counts of patient brokering — the latest arrest by a task force tasked by the state legislature to investigate corruption in the sober-home industry. LaFrance, 25, is the only woman and the youngest of eight sober-home and treatment-center owners and operators facing multiple...
Fifth sober home arrest in 6 days: Man charged with patient brokering

Fifth sober home arrest in 6 days: Man charged with patient brokering

A West Palm Beach man investigators say took money for referring sober-home patients to a specific Boynton Beach treatment center has become the fifth person in six days to be arrested on patient brokering charges in the county. Ehab Iskander, 33, was arrested late Tuesday on six counts of patient brokering, jail records show. Iskander heads Integrity House, a transitional living sober home in Lake...
Sober home owner granted bond

Sober home owner granted bond

The fourth sober home owner to be arrested in five days by the Sober Homes Task Force on Tuesday was granted bail by a Palm Beach County judge. The judge ordered $42,000 bail for Howard James Fowler Jr., who is charged with 14 counts of patient brokering. Fowler has no criminal record. Fowler, who has been clean and sober for two years according to his Facebook page, operates Anchorage Sober Living...
4th sober home arrest in 5 days: Man faces patient brokering charges

4th sober home arrest in 5 days: Man faces patient brokering charges

A Delray Beach sober home operator became the fourth arrest in five days by the Sober Home Task Force as it continues its crackdown on patient brokering in the drug treatment industry. Howard James Fowler Jr., 26, surrendered at the Palm Beach County Jail on 14 counts of patient brokering Monday afternoon. Fowler will not be released from jail until his lawyer can assure a judge and prosecutor that...
Third sober-home official arrested on patient-brokering charge

Third sober-home official arrested on patient-brokering charge

The Sober Home Task Force’s crackdown on patient brokering in the drug treatment industry continued Friday with the arrest of Patrick Norquist — whose younger brother was arrested a day earlier on the same charges. The older brother was held overnight without bond at the Palm Beach County Detention Center until his attorney, Jacob Cohen, assured the prosecutor and judge that the money...
Two sober home owners got kickbacks from treatment program, state says

Two sober home owners got kickbacks from treatment program, state says

Two Palm Beach County men were arrested Thursday for allegedly receiving kickbacks for brokering sober-home patients to a substance-abuse treatment program — the latest round in an effort by authorities to target corruption in the county’s $1 billion addiction-treatment industry. Bryan Norquist and John Dudek are facing multiple counts of directing patients to Whole Life Recovery of Boynton...
Why addict hesitated as friend OD’d: Call 911 or shoot up his drugs?

Why addict hesitated as friend OD’d: Call 911 or shoot up his drugs?

This is a story that Emerson F. has not told in public. He is not proud of this story. It haunts him and he does not want his full name made public. He wants to tell it now because it might help people who are not heroin addicts understand the power of craving and the depravity of addiction — what it feels like when every cell in your body screams for you to shoot some dope before calling 911...
Feds offer advice on regulating sober homes

Feds offer advice on regulating sober homes

The long-awaited guidelines on regulating sober homes released by federal officials this week give cities some legal wiggle room to oversee “group housing,” but firmly forbids local governments from targeting sober homes in their zoning and code enforcement efforts. The 20-page, single-spaced guidelines released Thursday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department...
Task force proposes pilot study to help heroin addicts recover

Task force proposes pilot study to help heroin addicts recover

Amid the horror stories shared at the Palm Beach County Heroin Task Force on Friday, hope emerged. Six months after its first meeting, the task force unveiled specific programs and initiatives it hopes to put in place to address the heroin epidemic. The plan includes a pilot study to begin in January that will provide detox services, medications and guidance by a nurse or counselor for a month after...
Editorial: Addiction patient brokering arrests a hopeful first step

Editorial: Addiction patient brokering arrests a hopeful first step

It has taken two years, but an investigation into corruption in Palm Beach County’s addiction recovery industry has finally yielded two arrests. On Tuesday, the owner and manager of a Boynton Beach treatment center were arrested and charged with multiple counts of patient brokering, a third degree felony. Palm Beach County’s state attorney vowed more arrests to come. “This is just...
More Addiction Treatment: Inside the Gold Rush Stories