John G. Rizzo once ran a Boca Raton-area operation that federal prosecutors say gamed the stock market. Rizzo did prison time and, when he got out, he allegedly got into a new racket: getting kickbacks for urine tests for people in treatment and recovery for substance abuse.
Now three South Florida men already caught last year in the net of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force, face new charges. Mark Desimone, David Remland, and Daniel Kandler allegedly paid Rizzo for referring the urine tests to the Delray Beach-area lab they ran.
According to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office affidavit, the lab paid Rizzo some $626,260 between September 2016 and January 2017. Rizzo’s attorney, Tama Beth Kudman, confirmed Thursday that he has not been charged in connection with the task force. She declined to otherwise comment.
But the other three men were booked late Wednesday at the Palm Beach County Jail. Desimone, 62, of Boca Raton, and Kandler, 42, of suburban Delray Beach, each are charged with 14 counts of fraud/patient brokering. Remland, 53, of Boca Raton, is charged with two counts.
Rizzo talked in early 2017 to the sober home task force, according to the affidavit. The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office said it would not comment.
Kandler, Desimone and Remland also had been arrested in 2017; Kandler on 98 counts of patient brokering and Remland and Desimone each on five counts. Police reports say Kandler — along with co-owners Remland and Desimone — made payments to James Tomasso and others for urine samples from addicts at various treatment centers.
In February 2017, the task force arrested Tomasso, then 57, of Boca Raton, owner and director of Global Recovery Resources. Police charged him with paying for referrals to one of his common-law wife’s three treatment centers. The task force’s dealings with Tomasso have led so far to numerous arrests, most recently the October 2017 arrests of six people, the March 29 arrest of Betsy Dieujuste of Boca Raton, the May 9 arrest of Scott Robert Gillis of Boynton Beach and the May 23 arrest of Shawtee Oates of Lantana.
The urine of drug addicts with insurance is worth millions of dollars to the operators of labs, sober homes and treatment centers. A Palm Beach Post investigation found that insurance companies often are billed as much as $5,000 for a single urine drug screen. Although insurance companies pay only a portion of that — between $1,500 and $2,000 — with addicts tested three or more times a week, the profits add up fast.
Rizzo spent time in prison; paid millions in restitution
In 2013, Rizzo pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges and was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison and ordered to pay $2.7 million in restitution. Two co-defendants — David Bahr, a southern California consultant, and Maureen Marant, of Lantana, who was Rizzo’s administrative assistant back in Florida — also pleaded guilty and got 18 months in prison and probation, respectively.
The Boca Raton-area based iTrackr Systems, of which Rizzo was CEO, developed software to track inventory of electronics, such as the Xbox or other gaming systems, at retail stores. Prosecutors contend he led investors to believe third parities were selling them shares when actually his firm was doing so, and was diverting the proceeds back into his boiler rooms. They cite some 120 victims in the United Kingdom in 2009 alone.
Rizzo got out of a federal prison in California in February 2016 and was placed on supervised release. That’s when he came back to Florida. But before he got out, he already had a new job.
Despite having no experience in the medical lab business, he told sober home task force investigators, he had connected with New Orleans-based UTC Laboratories. He’d never gone to New Orleans and had made his deal over the phone in November 2015. The affidavit is not clear on how he did so from prison.
In the arrangement, Rizzo got half of collected insurance money from clients at a facility he had brought to UTC: Safe Harbour Recovery Treatment Center. Rizzo, after getting out of prison, had met with principals of the West Palm Beach-area center.
Later, Rizzo had met Kandler, who was a neighbor of Rizzo’s in The Oaks development near U.S. 441 and Clint Moore Road west of Boca Raton. He also met Desimone, who also was a neighbor. Desimone told Rizzo he was opening a lab: Impact Q Testing (“IQ”), a laboratory in Delray Beach next to Chapters Recovery, a treatment center Kandler also owns that previously was called Good Future Recovery. Rizzo began working there in July 2016.
Rizzo told investigators he picked up samples from Safe Harbour and took them to IQ. He said Remland oversaw nearly all of IQ’s lab work.
Rizzo confirmed nine checks totaling $434,362 — from IQ to two firms under his control — were payment for referring tests to IQ from Safe Harbour and several smaller treatment centers. Four other checks totaling $182,898 were made from IQ to United Recovery Consultants, a shell for officials at Safe Harbour, the affidavit says.
In court Thursday morning, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Ted Booras ordered Kandler and Desimone each held in lieu of $3,000 bond. Prosecutors had wanted $3,000 for each of the 14 patient brokering counts, but Booras said the men have been out on bond on the previous arrest and have stayed clean and in town. Remland was released on his own recognizance. Booras ordered all three to have no contact or work with sober home industries or treatment industries.
“It’s a retread and repeat of a case that we are actively defending and litigating right now. It’s the same allegations involving the same individuals,” Kandler’s defense attorney, Jack Goldberger, said Wednesday. “We raised defenses to that case, and we’re going to raises defenses to the new case.”
Staff writer Romy Ellenbogen contributed to this story.