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.

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