Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Florida task force arrests sober home owners

Palm Beach County law officials have been cracking down on operators of homes for people in recovery from substance abuse. The Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force is made up of multiple agencies as well as prosecutors.

These facilities, also known as halfway houses or sober homes, help people who with drug or alcohol problems. They're supposed to be referred to treatment facilities based on their individual needs.

However, some of these operators have allegedly been referring people in their facilities to treatment centers in exchange for kickbacks -- also known as patient brokering. It's illegal for health care providers to receive money for patient referrals.

As one detective with the Delray Police said, "We want to shut down the bad providers so that when someone asks for help, they actually get it."

The first arrests resulting from the task force's work took place at last month in a Boynton Beach recovery center. Information gained from those arrests led to the arrest this month of two other sober home owners in Delray Beach on patient brokering charges, which is a felony. The recovery center said that the money they paid to the sober home was for food stamps and bus passes for their residents.

The Delray Beach police chief has expressed frustration with the lack of support from the state in cracking down on unscrupulous sober home managers and other drug-treatment providers. However, Palm Beach County has received $275,000 from the state to deal with the problem. The chief says he hopes that the arrests "will start to send a message to bad operators that it's time to get out of here…."

When law enforcement task forces engage in crackdowns like this, the people arrested often have different levels of culpability, and sometimes none at all. That's why it's essential to seek experienced legal guidance to protect yourself and present your own defense in order to separate yourself from others with whom you may have been in business.

Source: Sun-Sentinel, "Two Delray Beach sober-home owners arrested in crackdown," Ryan Van Velzer, Nov. 18, 2016

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