Owners of Gardens lab plead guilty to health care fraud charges

Updated Aug 30, 2018
Two brothers that owned a Palm Beach Gardens lab on Thursday pleaded guilty to health care fraud charges.

Two brothers who owned a Palm Beach Gardens lab on Thursday pleaded guilty to health care fraud charges, admitting they worked with notorious sober home operator Kenny Chatman to bilk insurers out of nearly $3 million.

H. Hamilton Wayne, 40, of Palm Beach Gardens, and Justin Morgan Wayne, 39, of Boca Raton, each face maximum 10-year terms when they are sentenced Nov. 1. Their company, Smart Lab, was also prosecuted and faces a possible $500,000 fine.

A Miami man — 41-year-old Lanny Fried — pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering for the role he played in the scheme when he worked as a sales representative at the lab that had offices on Northlake Boulevard and Ironwood Road. Fried could be sent to prison for as long as 20 years when he is sentenced on Nov. 7.

Like the owners of other laboratories who cashed in on the county’s illicit drug treatment industry, the Wayne brothers solicited urine samples from rehabilitation centers operated by Chatman and others, federal prosecutors said. The bodily fluids were liquid gold to labs because of lucrative reimbursements offered by insurance companies, they said. The tests were medically unnecessary.

In exchange for keeping the samples coming, the brothers would pay kickbacks to the treatment center owners. Chatman, who owned centers in suburban Lake Worth and Margate and sober homes elsewhere in the county, forced insured residents of his treatment centers to provide samples three times a week, prosecutors said.

Chatman, who is serving a 27 1/2-year prison sentence after pleading guilty last year to charges of money laundering, health care fraud and sex trafficking, turned addicts at his centers into prostitutes even as he raked in millions, prosecutors said. Chatman locked up those who came to him for help, took their food stamps and threatened them if they failed to do his bidding. Several people died of drug overdoses at the centers.

At his sentencing hearing, prosecutors said he wasn’t the biggest illegal drug treatment provider, just the most dangerous.