A West Palm Beach woman was sentenced to 2.5 years for her role in a scheme to exploit those struggling with addiction. The woman was accused of receiving over $250,000 in payments from the notorious fraudulent sober home provider, Reflections, run by Kenny Chatman. The defendant ran a treatment center that would refer patients to Chatman’s center in exchange for bribes. The patients were referred to the center for bogus treatment and unnecessary urine tests.
Urine tests are “liquid gold” for treatment centers looking to bilk insurance companies. Medicaid, Medicare, and other public insurers are usually the targets of these frauds. The insurance carriers will top dollar for urine tests profiting both labs and treatment centers. All told, the scheme raked in $16.2 million while exploiting vulnerable people attempting to improve their lives. The defendant helped Chatman pull in over a quarter of those proceeds while recruiting patients from both Florida and out of state.
Chatman is currently serving a 27-year sentence for his role in defrauding insurers. He has also been ordered to pay the entire amount back.
The Travel Act
The defendant was prosecuted under a federal law known as the Travel Act. The law was passed in the 1950s as a way to crack down on organized crime. It involves prohibiting the solicitation of individuals in the furtherance of a crime. It applies to both interstate and foreign commerce. To trigger the statute, an individual must literally travel or use the postal service to commit a crime. Bribery is one of the crimes that are expressly prohibited in the act.
Today, it is common for federal prosecutors to initiate bribery prosecutions on the basis of the Travel Act. Today, its application is often geared toward health care fraud prosecutions which may involve multi-state companies referring individuals for treatment illegally. In order to trigger a violation, however, there must be some form of illegal kickback scheme, patient brokering, or health care fraud. In the case mentioned above, you had all three.
Fallout from the fraud
Chatman has been sentenced to 27 years as the ringleader of the scheme, but several others, including doctors, are also facing prison time. The aforementioned defendant is the latest in a long line of prosecutions relating to this specific sober home. Many have negotiated reduced sentences based on their willingness to testify against others involved in the scheme.
Chatman could have faced much harsher charges as accusations emerged that he forced sober home residents to become prostitutes and allowed men to rape residents for cash. So, he could have been charged with human trafficking and probably should have been for his role in exploiting those in recovery.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The Skier Law Firm, P.A. represents the interests of those charged with crimes in West Palm Beach. Call our West Palm Beach criminal lawyers today and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.