The CEO of a Delray Beach rehab center which was raided in 2016 has been arrested on counts of patient brokering.
Law enforcement officials say that Daniel Kandler of Chapters Recovery had paid four employees almost $325,000 in illegal kickbacks to bring patients in for treatment.
Arrested on Thursday, Kandler faces 94 charges of patient brokering, which is a third-degree felony under Florida law. The Sun Sentinel reports that the Palm Beach Sober Homes Task Force has never before sought to indict an individual on so many counts of patient brokering.
Two of the individuals Kandler had on his payroll were implicated in a similar brought to light in October of last year. John Dudek, who had provided patients to another Delray Beach rehabilitation center, had remarked after being arrested in 2016 that he was “surprised” police were not investigating Chapters Recovery.
All four of the named brokers were listed as the sole or joint proprietors of “sober homes” of local “sober homes.” Sober homes, also known colloquially as “halfway houses,” help former and recurring addicts adjust to life in general society. Dudek, who operated Southern Palm Oasis, received $50,000 for directing his residents to finish treatment with Kandler at Chapters.
However, Dudek claimed that he worked as a tattoo artist and had been paid by Southern Palm Oasis. The facility allegedly sought to list him as a corporate officer on checks which they cashed without his knowledge.
Less than a month after Dudek implicated Chapters in the brokering ring, a SWAT team raided the facility, seizing electronics and paper records. The operation took place in broad daylight, while, according to the Sun Sentinel, patients were in therapy.
The subsequent investigation revealed that brokers had been paid between $500 and $1,000 per new patient. Working in an official capacity as company “marketers,” the brokers at Chapters were quietly ousted after Dudek’s arrest at Whole Life Recovery in October.
The task force responsible for busting the operations at Delray Beach had started in June. Police hired informants to elaborate on the magnitude of local brokering operations.
Florida is one of a handful of states which outlaw paying individuals to refer patients to certain facilities or programs for treatments. The anti-kickback statute used to prosecute Kandler and Dudek also places restrictions on physicians, hospitals, dentists, nursing homes, and pharmacies.
State Attorney Dave Aronberg explained how patient brokering can victimize the same people rehabilitation centers are supposed to help. Some centers, which posited themselves as the first line of defense for addicts hoping to get better, offer poorly structured treatment regimens. The business model of unscrupulous halfway houses can keep patients enrolled for longer than necessary without diminishing or addressing the roots of substance abuse. Others thrive by pushing their residents out to businesses like Chapters Recovery, earning a sizeable commission for enrolling new patients.
Former residents at low-quality, profit-driven facilities reported being tested multiple times per week for substances they’d never reported using. One anonymous woman said she had been sober for a year and was told to watch professional wrestling and Law & Order as part of her Chapters-approved recovery plan.
“You are either homeless or you put up with it,” the woman said.
The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force is funded by a $275,000 legislative grant to local Attorney General Dave Aronberg.
Aronbert said on Thursday that the task force is committed to rooting out and prosecuting patient brokers at Delray Beach and beyond.
Two arrested in crackdown on unscrupulous drug-treatment providers, authorities say