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 his own sober homes, faces a maximum six years in prison when he is sentenced on April 24. His plea comes a day after body-builder and fitness model Stefan Gatt, 27, who worked at a medical lab in Boca Raton, pleaded guilty to the same charge. Dr. Donald Willems, who was a medical director at one of Chatman’s treatment centers, is scheduled to take a plea deal Friday, court records show.

Full coverage: Palm Beach County sober homes

The guilty pleas signal they are cooperating with authorities who have charged Chatman with crimes that could send him to prison for life. Chatman was indicted last month on 17 charges, including sex trafficking for allegedly forcing women who wanted help beating their addictions into prostitution. The indictment of seven people came after a Palm Beach Post investigation of Palm Beach County’s burgeoning sober house industry.

Unlike Gatt, Bonds was also indicted on two counts of money-laundering and a single count of conspiracy to commit money-laundering. In exchange for his plea to health care fraud, prosecutors agreed to drop the other charges, which each carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

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

Bonds, 45, admitted he accepted kickbacks from Chatman to send roughly 60 insured residents of his sober homes to Reflections Treatment Center in Margate and Journey to Recovery in Lake Worth. He was paid $500 to $525 per patient per week, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Marie Villafana.

He sent residents to the centers knowing that Chatman illegally licensed the treatment centers in his wife’s name because, as a convicted felon, he was barred from owning and operating them, she said.

RELATED: Despite losing grant, health district will help addicts with treatment

Further, Villafana said, Bonds knew residents of his sober homes were continuing to use drugs and alcohol. He gave them free rent and other incentives so they would go to the treatment centers Chatman owned. Chatman, in turn, billed scores of insurers for so-called treatment they received, Villafana said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Jupiter High valedictorian is passionate for sciences

Although Alexandra Matys is only 18, her insatiable appetite for science proves she’s ready to take the field by storm. But everyone knows a good scientist must acknowledge their challenges. “My favorite classes ended up being the hardest ones,” the valedictorian of Jupiter High School admitted, of completing calculus and biology...
NEW: Palm Beach Gardens firm federally charged in ‘Shell Factory’ scam
NEW: Palm Beach Gardens firm federally charged in ‘Shell Factory’ scam

A Palm Beach Gardens-based securities broker and dealer is the latest entity pulled into the sweeping "Shell Factory" investigation, South Florida federal prosecutors said Thursday.  Delaney Equity Group LLC, prosecutors allege, sold penny stocks in the over-the-counter securities markets and conspired to sell shares of fraudulently...
BREAKING: Boynton police seek missing 71-year-old woman
BREAKING: Boynton police seek missing 71-year-old woman

A 71-year-old woman was last seen at about 7:30 Thursday morning, and Boynton Beach police are asking for help in finding her.  Police say Diane Lillie walked away from her sister’s home on East Chesterfield Drive in the Boynton Lakes neighborhood south of Hypoluxo Road. She reportedly suffers from schizophrenia and is considered...
LATEST: Third man arrested in 2016 Lantana home invasion
LATEST: Third man arrested in 2016 Lantana home invasion

A third man has been arrested for allegedly taking part in two 2016 home invasion robberies in Lantana, according to a police report. Reginald Vilsaint, 21, of Greenacres is facing six counts of home invasion with a firearm and is being held without bond at the Palm Beach County Jail. Vilsaint and two Lake Worth men — Raul Gongora Jr., 22, ...
NEW: Boca will have public discussion on Mayor Susan Haynie post-arrest plan
NEW: Boca will have public discussion on Mayor Susan Haynie post-arrest plan

Boca Raton leaders and employees haven’t heard from Mayor Susan Haynie since her felony arrest, yet she hasn’t resigned from Boca’s top spot. So what happens to city business? “I guess you can kind of liken it to if she were on vacation,” city spokeswoman Chrissy Gibson said. “It’s business as usual...
More Stories