Combating drug rehab scams earns Palm Beach County's top prosecutor national award
6/6/2018Dave Aronberg helped ignite rehab reforms, prosecuted corrupt operators
ORLANDO, June 6, 2018 — Igniting a statewide crackdown of large-scale corruption in Florida’s drug-rehab industry has earned State Attorney Dave Aronberg a national award from the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
Palm Beach County’s top elected prosecutor received the Apollo Award for distinction in combating insurance fraud. He received the award at the Coalition’s midyear meeting this week in Orlando.
Insurance fraud is a major driver of widespread corruption in sober homes, drug testing and rehab facilities throughout Palm Beach County and other hotspot areas of Florida. Bad actors traffic addicts for bogus or inflated drug treatment that spurs hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bogus insurance claims annually. This scam led to one death every 15 hours in Palm Beach County in 2016.
Aronberg assumed a statewide and county-wide lead role in combating addiction-rehab fraud, earning national prominence in the process.
He convened a Sober Home Task Force that has made 54 arrests and already earned 17 convictions in Palm Beach County since October 2016.
One notable case was sober-home operator Kenny Chatman. He gained notoriety for a $24-million insurance scam. Chatman gave drugs to addicted residents to induce relapses that caused repeated cycles of inflated insurance claims for urine testing and rehab. Chatman received 27.5 years in federal prison in 2017.
The legislature stiffened penalties in 2017 in response to proposals from Aronberg’s Task Force and a grand jury that Aronberg convened. Florida imposed stronger penalties for patient brokering, criminalized deceptive marketing by sober homes, and improved oversight of drug treatment centers.
With Florida playing a national leadership role in tackling opioid addiction and drug-rehab corruption, Aronberg testified on Capitol Hill. He urged Congress to clarify federal housing discrimination laws to allow local governments to enact reasonable guidelines for the protection of sober home residents in recovery.
Aronberg also is leading a working group of prosecutors around the U.S. to develop best practices for investigating and prosecuting opioid fraud, along with proposals for better prevention and rehabilitation.
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud is a nonprofit alliance of consumer groups, insurers and government agencies combatting all forms of insurance scams.
James Quiggle, Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, 202-393-7331;
Mike Edmondson, Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office; 561-324-6816.