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Monday, February 10, 2020 4:49 PM

WPTV: Sober Homes Task Force ramps up crackdown on pharmacies, physicians, labs

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The crackdown on rogue sober homes continues as State Attorney Dave Aronberg says they are shifting their focus on a new set of violators such as pharmacies, physicians, and drug-testing laboratories. 

"There have been more than 800 calls to the hotline, and we follow up on each and every one of them," said Aronberg...


Thursday, February 6, 2020 11:24 AM

Sun Sentinel: Sober home owners put their horses first, and now three people are dead

Two sober home operators funneled insurance money from their ailing patients into a horse rescue business, and three of their patients wound up dead of drug overdoses, authorities say.

For more than two years, Bradley Gaver and Jennifer Swanson put the health of their horses over their patients’ well-being, prosecutors allege. The two face criminal charges of racketeering, patient brokering and negligent manslaughter. They are the first drug treatment providers charged in the death of someone under their care in Florida, says Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg...


Friday, January 31, 2020 12:01 AM

Politico: U.S. life expectancy increases for first time in 4 years

Fatal drug overdoses dropped in 2018 for the first time in nearly 30 years, and cancer-related deaths also declined

Life expectancy in the United States increased in 2018 for the first time in four years, driven largely by a drop in cancer-related deaths and a historic decline in fatal overdoses.

New CDC data released Thursday provides hope that the major contributors to three years of stagnant or declining life expectancy may be relenting. Still, other factors such as suicide ticked up in the past year...


Saturday, January 25, 2020 12:00 AM

Sun Sentinel: Drug dealer accused of murder after buyer OD’d on fentanyl gets 22 years

It was the first-of-its-kind case in South Florida: a drug dealer charged with murder over a buyer’s fatal overdose from the dangerous opioid fentanyl. And now prosecutors have a conviction...


Friday, January 24, 2020 2:57 PM

Palm Beach Post: First man in Palm Beach County to be charged with homicide for OD death takes plea

Thomas Matuseski died of a drug overdose in Boynton Beach in January 2018. Authorities say Calvin Warren Jr. sold him the drugs. Now Warren is headed to state prison.

WEST PALM BEACH - At Tom Matuseski’s son’s funeral in 2018, a man came up to him to express his condolences. Thomas Matuseski died of a drug overdose in Boynton Beach, where he worked to help others dealing with addiction to work toward recovery...


Monday, January 13, 2020 7:00 AM

Sun Sentinel: More arrests to come in crackdown on drug-recovery industry, prosecutor vows

Battling the opioid epidemic, they’ve pursued 100 criminal cases against fraudsters in the area’s drug-recovery industry. And they’ve seen a big drop in overdose deaths among mistreated addicts.

So is it time for Palm Beach CountyState Attorney Dave Aronberg and his sober-homes cleanup crew to declare victory and disband? Hardly...


Monday, December 30, 2019 12:00 AM

New York Times: Opioid Deaths Rise When Auto Plants Close, Study Shows

Research found 85 percent more deaths among those of prime working age in places where car factories closed compared with where they stayed open...


Thursday, December 19, 2019 4:00 PM

Vice: Inside the Crackdown on Florida Rehab Clinics That Became Piss-Test Scams


Friday, November 15, 2019 5:15 PM

Orange County Register: If somebody dies, even in drug rehab, shouldn’t it be a potential crime?

Activists acknowledge that drug use can be lethal. But rehabs charge huge money for safe recovery. When they fail, criminal charges are rare.

With enormous hope, Gail and Warwick Dunnett sent their son Harrison — a rapper, poet and musician who struggled with learning disabilities — to an addiction treatment center in Pasadena to get well. Harrison, 20, was giddy over his acceptance to the Los Angeles College of Music, and eager to start the next phase of his life...

 



Tuesday, November 12, 2019 2:55 PM

Palm Beach Post: This drug was the top killer in Palm Beach County — and Florida

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, was the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Florida and in Palm Beach County in 2018.

A synthetic opioid up to 100 times more potent than morphine was the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Palm Beach County and Florida last year...


Monday, October 21, 2019 5:00 PM

CBS 12: Opioid settlement could bode well for Palm Beach County suit

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Palm Beach County leaders on Monday weighed the fallout from a quarter-billion-dollar settlement in a landmark opioid lawsuit in Ohio.

It was a test case, closely watched across the nation, and potentially a good sign for Palm Beach County’s own litigation seeking millions from the pharmaceutical industry...


Monday, October 14, 2019 5:00 AM

The New Yorker: My Years in the Florida Shuffle of Drug Addiction

Cycling through relapse and recovery, and the industry that enables both.

In February, 2017, I stepped off a plane in Tampa, drunk and dope-sick. I was twenty-four, and for the past eight years I had been shooting up heroin, cocaine, and all manner of pills: Dilaudid, Opana, OxyContin, Desoxyn, Ritalin. Now I was on my way to River Oaks, an addiction-treatment center, where I would spend the next forty-five days. River Oaks was on a gated campus, surrounded by a small forest with trails running through it. I was withdrawing from heroin and benzodiazepines at the time, and mornings were the worst: I woke in the dark at 6 a.m., the pain of withdrawal not yet mediated by the day’s first dose of Suboxone or Librium. I promised anyone who met me that I would die, simply die, of withdrawal; when, on day twenty-three, I had a seizure, I thought, Yes, I am really dying, but then I lived...


Tuesday, September 24, 2019 7:16 AM

Palm Beach Post: Lantana man charged with patient brokering in alleged lab scheme

Police say he paid kickbacks to sober home operators to steer their patients’ drug tests to a lab, which then paid him $700,000 after the patients’ insurers covered the costs of the tests.

DELRAY BEACH - Jason Gadreault, police say, gave $100,000 or more in illegal kickbacks to Palm Beach County sober home owners and operators for big-ticket drug tests, and was rewarded with more than $700,000 from a Pennsylvania lab that itself earned at least hundreds of thousands of dollars...


Thursday, September 19, 2019 3:00 PM

CBS 12: Opioid numbers trend down again, but fight not over, says prosecutor

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Once ground zero for the opioid crisis, Palm Beach County has, out of necessity, become a leader in the fight against addiction and corrupt treatment facilities.

“It is significant progress in our battle against this unprecedented opioid addiction problem,” said Palm Beach County’s State Attorney, Dave Aronberg, speaking with CBS12 News this week...


Monday, September 16, 2019 6:47 AM

MSNBC - Morning Joe: State Attorney Dave Aronberg & Dr. Dave Campbell interview on the proposed Purdue Pharma settlement agreement


Thursday, September 12, 2019 9:45 PM

Law360: Purdue Bankruptcy May Leave State AGs Out In The Cold

Law360 (September 12, 2019, 9:45 PM EDT) -- Purdue Pharma LP's landmark deal to end thousands of opioid suits notably excludes dozens of states that may now have no other recourse than to sue the company's owners, the Sackler family. But if Purdue goes through with a planned bankruptcy filing, these states will find it difficult to recoup anything more than the Sacklers have already agreed to pay...


Friday, September 6, 2019 12:55 PM

Law360: Why Opioid Suits Avoid GCs — And Why That Could Change

Law360 (September 6, 2019, 12:55 PM EDT) -- So far, top corporate lawyers have mostly been left out of the recent wave of lawsuits against companies with possible ties to the nationwide deadly opioid drug crisis, but experts warn that executives — including general counsel — could become targets in the future...


Tuesday, September 3, 2019 7:00 AM

Vox: She spent more than $110,000 on drug rehab. Her son still died.

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vermont — Kim Blake keeps a folder in her house, swollen with papers. Each document represents yet another try at helping her son Sean recover from a decade of drug addiction...


Sunday, August 25, 2019 7:00 PM

CBS News - 60 Minutes: Who's responsible for the opioid epidemic? Doctors or pharmaceutical companies?

 

In the annals of "60 Minutes," we have rarely come across a doctor like Florida physician Barry Schultz. Prosecutors say he wantonly prescribed and sold massive quantities of highly addictive opioids. As we told you last September, Schultz was sentenced to 157 years for his role in fueling the most devastating public health crisis of the 21st century. Last year, more Americans died of drug overdoses than in the entire Vietnam War. While Schultz ended up in jail, Mallinckrodt, the pharmaceutical company that flooded the nation with tens of billions of opioid pills, paid a relatively small penalty. The question now being debated in Congress and in federal court is: who is responsible for the opioid epidemic? The doctors who prescribed the pills or the opioid manufacturers and distributors who supplied them?...


Friday, August 23, 2019 12:01 AM

Palm Beach Post: Mail-order prescriptions brought ring thousands in patient-brokering kickbacks, police say

The prescriptions sent to Express Care Pharmacy ‘were not cheap,’ ranging from $646 to $5,614, an arrest report said.

DELRAY BEACH - Conspirators shared hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks by submitting hundreds of high-priced mail-order prescriptions, many of them fraudulent, to a single pharmacy, authorities allege...


Tuesday, August 20, 2019 2:00 PM

State Attorney Dave Aronberg Selected to Represent Prosecutors on Board of National Drug Court Organization

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg will represent prosecutors nationwide for a six-year term on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). Aronberg, who had made the opioid epidemic a focal point of his career, will serve as the only current prosecutor on the 20-member Board...


Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:14 PM

WPBF: West Palm Beach Police: Woman arrested for posing as psychiatrist at treatment facility

NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. — A West Palm Beach woman faces felony charges after authorities said she posed as a psychiatrist for several years and ran a treatment center. Alonderay Johnson, 54, was arrested on Tuesday. She faces charges of unlicensed practice of a health care profession, fraudulent marketing practices and misrepresentation of academic standing...


Thursday, August 8, 2019 12:00 AM

Palm Beach Post: Appeals court hands Palm Beach County state attorney big win in opioid crackdown

The 4th DCA ruled that people charged with patient brokering can’t argue that their lawyers advised them that what they were doing was legal. It’s a win for Dave Aronberg’s crackdown on the county’s illicit drug treatment industry.

WEST PALM BEACH - Scores of people ensnared by Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s efforts to curb the area’s opioid epidemic won’t be able to beat criminal charges by claiming they got bad advice from their attorneys, an appeals court ruled Wednesday...


Friday, August 2, 2019 5:51 PM

Miami Herald: How many people died from opioids while Scott and Florida lawmakers coddled Big Pharma? | Opinion

As the behind-the-scenes story of America’s worst drug epidemic becomes known, a deadly starring role belongs to the Florida politicians who looked the other way while the state turned into a destination flea market for opioid buyers.

More than 5.5 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills poured into Florida between 2006 and 2012, according to data recently provided to The Washington Post by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency...


Sunday, July 28, 2019 11:49 AM

WFLA: New data from DEA shows Florida’s role in opioid epidemic

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) – New data from the Drug Enforcement Agency details Florida’s part in the opioid crisis. The database was published by the Washington Post tracks nearly 380-million opioid transactions from 2006–2012.

Tampa alone received 410 million pills during the seven-year time frame.

“The shock and surprise really comes from the fact that there’s a federal law that requires drug distributors to alert the DEA when there’s an unusual quantity of drugs going to a certain area, and yet these drug companies ignored it,” said Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg...


Thursday, July 25, 2019 9:08 PM

Channel 3000: Closer look at Florida's sober homes: Inside their fatal attraction with Wisconsin's addicts

JANESVILLE, Wis - The "sober living" facilities where two Rock County men died are not offering an explanation.

Seth Stricklin, of Janesville, overdosed just days ago at Evernia Station sober living home in West Palm Beach. His parents, Mark and Joyce, said they've been kept in the dark about the moments surrounding his death...


Thursday, July 25, 2019 2:55 PM

Miami Herald: What fueled opioid crisis in Florida? Billions of pills, millions in campaign cash.

In a seven-year span that saw an opioid epidemic reach crisis levels, 5,556,553,071 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills flooded into Florida.

They poured across the state through shady clinics that became known as “pill mills.” But hundreds of millions streamed through grocery stores and chain pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, according to newly released data provided by the Drug Enforcement Agency to The Washington Post and analyzed by the Herald/Times...


Thursday, July 25, 2019 1:00 PM

Tampa Bay Times: Florida’s opioid crisis: billions of pills, millions in campaign cash

New data shows extent of Florida’s opioid epidemic from 2006 to 2012 and the role that major grocery stores and chain pharmacies played in fueling the crisis.

TALLAHASSEE — In a seven-year span that saw an opioid epidemic reach crisis levels, 5,556,553,071 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills flooded into Florida...

 

 


Wednesday, July 24, 2019 8:00 PM

Channel 3000: Unsupervised and unregulated: Families blame Florida rehabs for deaths of 2 Rock County men

JANESVILLE, Wis. - Mark and Joyce Stricklin said their son Seth died because of a lack of regulations.

Just days ago, the 23-year-old Janesville native decided to take one last dose of heroin before heading to detox.

He had spent the last 10 months living at a sober living home in West Palm Beach, Florida, a place intended to keep him clean and help him on his journey to sobriety...


Sunday, July 21, 2019 12:00 AM

WJNO: Good News/Bad News In Florida's Fight Against Opioid Abuse

The number of overdose deaths from opioids continues to fall in Palm Beach County and around the state.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who started the Sober Homes Task Force 3 years ago, cites that for locking up people who were luring addicts to our area and using them to commit insurance fraud...


Friday, July 19, 2019 1:00 PM

WJNO: PBC State Attorney Dave Aronberg & Chief Asst. State Attorney Al Johnson Talk Opioids

Reaction to the latest numbers involving opioid-related deaths and an update on the Sober Homes Task Force.


Friday, July 19, 2019 12:00 AM

New York Times: 3,271 Pill Bottles, a Town of 2,831: Court Filings Say Corporations Fed Opioid Epidemic

Cities and counties are suing major drugstore chains and Walmart, contending they distributed billions of painkillers that devastated communities.

 

The Walgreens employee was bewildered by the quantity of opioids the company was shipping to just one store. Its pharmacy in Port Richey, Fla. (population 2,831) was ordering 3,271 bottles of oxycodone a month...

 


Friday, July 12, 2019 9:56 PM

Law360: How A Doc's FCA Suit Turned Into $1.4B Opioid Deal

Law360 (July 12, 2019, 9:56 PM EDT) -- An addiction specialist looking to take on Reckitt Benckiser's marketing practices for its opioid treatment found a path to victory by filing a whistleblower suit so that the federal government would get involved, culminating in a record breaking $1.4 billion deal...


Friday, July 12, 2019 12:00 AM

Town-Crier: Aronberg, Johnson Receive Awards For Success Of Sober Homes Task Force

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson were honored with the 2019 Pillar of Excellence Award for Criminal Justice by the Addiction Policy Forum in Washington, D.C., on June 24...


Thursday, July 11, 2019 3:00 PM

New Data Shows Continued Decreases in Opioid Overdose Patients in Palm Beach County

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced new data that show a 21% decrease in the number of Fire Rescue responses to opioid overdose patients in Palm Beach County in the first 6 months of 2019, compared to the same period last year. The new statistics, which came from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, show that county firefighters and paramedics made 655 emergency calls for opioid overdoses of 667 individuals in the first 6 months of this year, compared to 821 emergency calls for opioid overdoses of 841 individuals in the first 6 months of 2018...


Thursday, July 11, 2019 12:00 AM

News Service of Florida/WUSF: Drug Deaths In Florida Down In First Half Of 2018

The number of drug-related deaths in Florida, including those caused by opioids, declined in the first six months of 2018, compared to the first half of 2017, according to an interim report released by the state Medical Examiners Commission...


Wednesday, July 3, 2019 12:00 AM

State Attorney Dave Aronberg and Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson Receive National Awards for Success of Sober Homes Task Force

WASHINGTON, DC -- State Attorney Dave Aronberg and Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson were honored with the 2019 Pillar of Excellence Award for Criminal Justice by the Addiction Policy Forum (APF) in Washington, DC on June 24, 2019. The organization recognized Aronberg and Johnson for the success of their Sober Homes Task Force, which has helped clean up fraud and abuse in the drug treatment and sober home industries and led to a 40% drop in opioid overdose deaths in Palm Beach County in 2018...


Friday, June 28, 2019 10:03 PM

WPBF: Seven people charged in major opioid bust in South Florida

Pharmacist arrested at Boca Raton Kmart

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Authorities said seven people have been arrested in a major opioid bust in South Florida, including a pharmacist at a Boca Raton store...


Wednesday, June 26, 2019 12:00 AM

STAT: In a nationwide first, New Jersey authorizes paramedics to start addiction treatment at the scene of an overdose

WASHINGTON — In a potential paradigm shift for addiction medicine, New Jersey’s health commissioner this week authorized paramedics to administer the drug buprenorphine to patients almost immediately after reviving them from an opioid overdose...


Friday, June 21, 2019 12:12 PM

Sun Sentinel: She came to South Florida to heal from her drug abuse. Months later she was dead.

Jenna Jacobsen was never afraid to get her hands dirty. She was often by her father’s side while he worked on his motorcycles in the garage of their home in East Islip, New York.

“She was my little shadow,” Chris Jacobsen said. When she wasn’t helping him fix things, she could be found playing soccer with a cluster of neighborhood friends and cousins, riding her bike, or swimming. “She was a happy-go-lucky girl,” Jacobsen said. “A little bit of a tomboy,” he added.

Her innocence soured not long after her father and mother divorced in 2014. Jenna moved in with her mother. At age 16 or 17, she began experimenting with drugs such as heroin and fentanyl with her boyfriend. According to family, she bounced in and out of rehab a handful of times over three years, determined to beat her addiction...


Wednesday, June 19, 2019 9:00 AM

Yahoo Finance: The opioid crisis is hitting one industry particularly hard

As opioid addiction increased exponentially over the last two decades, American construction workers have been among those hit the hardest.

According to a note from Barclays Research, construction workers are nearly six times more likely than other industries to develop an opioid addiction...


Tuesday, June 18, 2019 6:00 AM

USA Today: Schumer & Cotton: Our bipartisan 'Fentanyl Sanctions Act' targets traffickers like China

Synthetic opioids have devastated our home states and many others. We need to work together to end an epidemic that kills tens of thousands a year.

Overdosing from synthetic opioids is one of the fastest-growing causes of death in America, a crisis long in the making but one which in recent years has reached critical levels. In 2017 alone, it’s estimated that opioid overdoses claimed the lives of 48,000 Americans — more than double the number from a decade earlier. Of those deaths, approximately 32,000 involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl...


Friday, June 14, 2019 12:42 PM

Sun Sentinel: Florida now treats drug dealers as killers — and the law is going after them

More drug dealers are facing murder charges for selling the powerful opiod fentanyl to people who wound up overdosing.

Prosecutors contend the dealers not only stuffed their pockets from selling the usually lethal and cheap synthetic pills, but intentionally killed buyers at the same time...


Tuesday, May 28, 2019 6:49 PM

WPBF: Oklahoma opioid trial targeting pharma companies could affect Florida epidemic

It is expected to provide an unprecedented examination of the opioid epidemic and could indicate to what degree drug companies accused of fueling the crisis will be held responsible

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — All eyes are on the nation's first opioid trial targeting pharmaceutical companies that started Tuesday in Norman, Oklahoma.

It is expected to provide an unprecedented examination of the opioid epidemic and could indicate to what degree drug companies accused of fueling the crisis will be held responsible in hundreds of other lawsuits still pending across the country...


Friday, May 24, 2019 10:24 AM

Sun Sentinel: South Florida shares shame and blame with big pharma for OxyContin epidemic | Fred Grimm

David and Joss Sackler, fleeing their niche in New York City high society and the damning taint of the oxy scandal, found a fitting place to light. They’ve moved to South Florida, a community sullied by its own considerable culpability in the overdose deaths of 200,000 Americans...


Sunday, May 19, 2019 12:00 AM

Newsy: Body Brokers Are Undermining Efforts To End The U.S. Addiction Crisis

The rise in addiction and lack of regulation in the treatment industry has created a perfect storm of fraud and abuse...


Thursday, May 16, 2019 8:25 AM

MSNBC - Morning Joe: State Attorney Dave Aronberg & Dr. Dave Campbell interview on the opioid epidemic

Is it fair to blame drug companies for the #OpioidCrisis?


Tuesday, May 14, 2019 7:24 PM

WPBF: Battle against opioid epidemic rages in South Florida

Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg believes more can be done to combat drug crisis

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the battle against the opioid epidemic continues across the United States, Florida state officials said they are seeing a decrease in overdose deaths across the Sunshine State.

Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg said he believes increased enforcement, use of narcan and rehabilitation after an overdose occurs have contributed to the decrease...


Thursday, May 2, 2019 12:00 AM

New York Times: Top Executives of Insys, an Opioid Company, Are Found Guilty of Racketeering

BOSTON — A federal jury on Thursday found the top executives of Insys Therapeutics, a company that sold a fentanyl-based painkiller, guilty of racketeering charges in a rare criminal prosecution that blamed corporate officials for contributing to the nation’s opioid epidemic...


Sunday, April 28, 2019 7:00 PM

CBS News - 60 Minutes: Deadly fentanyl bought online from China being shipped through the mail

Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and is now available on the internet and can be delivered through the mail...


Wednesday, April 24, 2019 6:45 AM

MSNBC - Morning Joe: State Attorney Dave Aronberg's interview on opioid distributors charged with federal crimes.

Here’s a clip from State Attorney Dave Aronberg's Morning Joe interview on the first ever criminal charges against a drug distributor and its former executives for fueling the opioid crisis.


Thursday, April 18, 2019 9:00 AM

State Attorney Dave Aronberg to Speak at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta – the Largest Annual Conference Addressing the Opioid Crisis

State Attorney Dave Aronberg has been selected to speak at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta on April 24th, which is the largest annual conference addressing the opioid crisis. Aronberg will join Washington, DC, attorneys Stacey Worthy and Daniel McClughen in a presentation entitled “A Sobering Task: Protecting the Health and Safety of People in Treatment and Recovery.”

State Attorney Aronberg will be joined at the conference by Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson, who leads Aronberg’s Sober Homes Task Force. The Sober Homes Task Force’s crackdown on rogue sober homes and corrupted drug treatment centers was an important factor in Palm Beach County’s approximate 40% decrease in opioid overdose deaths in 2018, compared to 2017.

At the four-day conference, more than 3000 participants share strategies on the opioid crisis with decision makers and allied professionals, and learn what is working in prevention, treatment and law enforcement. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will address participants on April 24th. Notable headline speakers at the conference in past years have included President Barack Obama in 2016, Congressmen Patrick Kennedy and Newt Gingrich in 2017, and President Bill Clinton in 2018.

“I am honored to be participating in this prestigious conference,” said State Attorney Aronberg, “and look forward to sharing Palm Beach County’s success in saving lives from the opioid epidemic by cleaning up fraud and abuse in the drug treatment and sober home industries.”

The Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit will take place April 22-25 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. For more information on the conference, visit www.rx-summit.com.
xxx


Monday, April 15, 2019 10:09 AM

Palm Beach Post: Sober-home owner sentenced to 4 years for patient brokering

Bradley Vercosa’s sober homes were ‘flop houses’ that ‘preyed on’ their residents, the family of a man who died in one said in court.

WEST PALM BEACH — Gail Smith asked Bradley Vercosa if he knew where he was Aug. 15, 2016. She said she remembered where she was: She was on the phone with her son, Kenny, who just turned 21. He was in addiction treatment and living in one of Vercosa’s sober homes in South Florida. Gail Smith said they were planning a trip down to visit him...


Sunday, April 7, 2019 5:10 PM

Palm Beach Post: Boca man, 75, charged with patient brokering

His wife, daughter were among dozens arrested Tuesday in massive, multi-state kickback fraud

Steven Arnold Manko was arrested today and faces three charges of fraud in a patient-brokering scheme that has now led to three dozen arrests in Florida and Pennsylvania...


Tuesday, April 2, 2019 6:10 PM

Palm Beach Post: Dozens arrested in patient-brokering scheme connected to Lake Park lab

Lake Park lab billed insurance companies $141 million in two years for urine tests, authorities said.

WEST PALM BEACH -- A Lake Park laboratory is at the center of a multimillion dollar patient-brokering scheme that has led to the arrest of 35 people in Florida and Pennsylvania, state attorney Dave Aronberg said Tuesday...


Tuesday, April 2, 2019 6:10 PM

Sun Sentinel: 15 arrested in South Florida drug lab kickback scheme

A Palm Beach County drug testing lab and 10 South Florida treatment centers worked together to fraudulently bill more than $141 million in unwarranted urine testing of drug addicts, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said Tuesday...


Tuesday, April 2, 2019 5:54 PM

CBS 12: 15 arrested in multi state drug treatment fraud case

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced Tuesday the Sober Home Task Force busted open a massive multi-state kickback scheme between drug treatment centers and a local drug testing lab...


Tuesday, April 2, 2019 5:51 PM

WPBF: Arrests made in drug treatment fraud case

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Fifteen people are behind bars in a multi-state drug treatment fraud investigation.

The arrests involve a Lake Park laboratory and 10 south Florida treatment centers, from Ft. Pierce all the way to Miami...


Tuesday, April 2, 2019 5:37 PM

Reading Eagle: Florida prosecutor announces arrests tied to urine-testing lab used by Liberation Way

Prosecutors in Florida on Tuesday announced 15 arrests related to drug abuse treatment that included individuals tied to a urine-testing lab used by Liberation Way in Pennsylvania.

The announcement by the office of State Attorney Dave Aronberg of Palm Beach County came eight days after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro lodged criminal charges against 11 people tied to alleged kickback and fraud schemes at Liberation Way, a treatment company that had two centers in Montgomery County...


Monday, April 1, 2019 10:00 PM

WPTV: Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force to announce arrests in major fraud case

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and other law enforcement officials will announce arrests in a multi-state drug treatment fraud investigation on Tuesday.

Aronberg is scheduled to hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m., where he'll be joined by the FBI, Justice Department, Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force, and the Pennsylvania’s Office of the Attorney General...


Tuesday, March 26, 2019 11:57 PM

Reading Eagle: Former employees saddened by alleged Liberation Way schemes that led to 82 felony charges

READING, PA —
Lisa Fobian cried Monday night as she absorbed the full magnitude of the alleged deception and lies at Liberation Way, the drug abuse treatment company where she worked for more than three years.

On Monday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the arrest of 11 owners, employees and people associated with the for-profit company and charges they ran a complex web of fraud and kickback schemes...


Monday, March 25, 2019 1:42 PM

Palm Beach Post: First person found guilty of patient brokering sentenced to 3 years

Nicholas Cirio, the first person to be convicted by a jury for patient brokering in Palm Beach County, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo.

WEST PALM BEACH — The first person to go to trial and be convicted by a jury of patient brokering in Palm Beach County was sentenced to nearly three years in prison Monday morning...


Thursday, March 21, 2019 12:02 AM

NPR: Fentanyl-Linked Deaths: The U.S. Opioid Epidemic's Third Wave Begins

Men are dying after opioid overdoses at nearly three times the rate of women in the United States. Overdose deaths are increasing faster among black and Latino Americans than among whites. And there's an especially steep rise in the number of young adults ages 25 to 34 whose death certificates include some version of the drug fentanyl...


Friday, March 1, 2019 12:00 AM

Mother Jones: Inside a Disturbing New Phase of the Opioid Epidemic

“Mom, When They Look at Me, They See Dollar Signs”

How rehab recruiters are luring recovering opioid addicts into a deadly cycle.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019 6:17 PM

Palm Beach Post: Jury finds man guilty of patient brokering in first case to go to trial

A six-person jury found 40-year-old Nick Cirio guilty of 10 counts of patient brokering.

WEST PALM BEACH — Assistant State Attorney Ashley Ackerman told the jury there were two words that were said over and over again throughout the trial of Nick Cirio: patient brokering. And, she said, they still may not know exactly what that means or still may be digesting the large amount of evidence, but she wanted to be clear on why they sat through three days of testimony this week...


Wednesday, February 13, 2019 5:01 AM

Palm Beach Post: Editorial - Judge’s ruling threatens Aronberg’s war on opioid abuses

Efforts to rein in sober home industry abuses are finally paying dividends. A 42 percent dropin the number of fatal opioid overdoses in Palm Beach County alone is a testament to that fact.

But that progress is threatened by a ruling last week by Circuit Judge Laura Johnson that makes it almost impossible for prosecutors to go after unscrupulous drug treatment center operators and help save the lives of troubled patients...


Friday, February 8, 2019 7:00 AM

Fort Myers News-Press: Losing her: After detox in Southwest Florida, a precipice with few safety nets

“Why couldn’t I catch you?”

Willie Weatherley will ask that question long after the heartbreak of her loss subsides.

She will wonder why she survived her opioid addiction while her sister Jessica did not.

When last seen by The News-Press in December, Jessica Weatherley had made it into detox after a frustrated first attempt.

Lacking money or insurance, the young Fort Myers mother next went to a sober home on Florida’s east coast where, far from the influence of using friends, Willie hoped she might stay on the recovery path...


Thursday, January 24, 2019 12:00 AM

WLRN: Palm Beach County State Attorney Explains Success In Reducing Opioid Related Deaths

Palm Beach County has been the epicenter of the opioid crisis in Florida. But data from the county’s state attorney office shows opioid deaths decreased 41 percent from 2017 to 2018...


Thursday, January 17, 2019 4:15 PM

Sun Sentinel: Opioid death rate plunges 41 percent in Florida county at center of epidemic

Almost three years after Palm Beach County officials set out to combat the opioid epidemic, it looks like their efforts are paying off: The State Attorney’s Office reports there were 326 opioid deaths in 2018, down from 558 in 2017. That’s a 41 percent decline...


Monday, January 14, 2019 5:19 PM

Palm Beach Post: Delray Police’s success with opioid crisis catches eye of state’s new attorney general

"The city and Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who also was invited to serve on Moody’s task force, found ways to force out disreputable sober homes and lessen the impact of the national epidemic."


Monday, January 14, 2019 12:18 PM

Palm Beach Post: Sober-home task force: Kickbacks for North Palm center totaled nearly $250,000

A Tequesta-area man is accused of paying to have patients sent to Reliance Treatment Center in North Palm Beach.

WEST PALM BEACH — A Tequesta-area man is charged with paying nearly a quarter-million dollars in kickbacks for referrals to his treatment centers....


Monday, January 14, 2019 10:06 AM

CNN: Odds of dying from accidental opioid overdose in the US surpass those of dying in car accident

For the first time on record the odds of accidentally dying from an opioid overdose in the United States are now greater than those of dying in an automobile accident...


Tuesday, January 8, 2019 6:30 AM

Burlington Free Press: Do sober houses exploit patients? A look at what's happened in other states

Vermont's growing sober house industry is largely unregulated. A local nonprofit is aiming to change that by this summer. But currently, without oversight, there is no state assurances that these homes are safe for residents. A sober house, or a recovery residence, is a group drug-free home for people in recovery from addiction. Many people find support in these places. But around the country, unscrupulous sober house owners have taken advantage of people struggling with addiction, exploiting residents and, in some cases, leading them into relapse or overdose...


Wednesday, December 26, 2018 2:01 AM

Florida Times Union: Wednesday’s Editorial Progress made, still too many overdose deaths

Next year at this time, the number of overdose deaths in Jacksonville should have declined significantly. Project Save Lives should have moved from a pilot program to a permanent part of the city government with its own dedicated revenue source, supplemented by funds from a nationwide suit filed by the city and others against the opioid pill manufacturers...


Wednesday, December 26, 2018 12:00 AM

New York Times: Opioid Makers Are the Big Winners in Lawsuit Settlements

When the Justice Department in 2007 settled its criminal case against the maker of OxyContin, a high-powered painkiller, federal officials claimed a “victory” that would deter other companies from illegally marketing opioids...


Friday, December 14, 2018 3:01 PM

Palm Beach Post: Two arrested in patient-brokering scheme involving fraudulent prescriptions

The Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force said it’s the first arrests of these kind it has seen.

WEST PALM BEACH — A pharmacist and a “middleman” conspired to split thousands of dollars in insurance reimbursements from fraudulent prescriptions with an undercover police officer pretending to own a drug-treatment center, authorities said in announcing their arrests...


Wednesday, December 12, 2018 10:21 AM

USA Today: Fentanyl now America's deadliest drug, federal health officials say

Fentanyl is now the deadliest drug in America, federal health officials announced Wednesday, with over 18,000 overdose deaths in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available...


Tuesday, December 4, 2018 5:23 PM

Palm Beach Post: Wellington man charged with 20 counts of patient brokering

Authorities say he paid sober homes thousands of dollars to refer patients to his Royal Palm Beach drug-treatment center.

A Wellington resident who owns a substance-abuse facility in Royal Palm Beach has been charged with 20 counts of patient brokering, according to a Delray Beach police report and court documents...


Tuesday, December 4, 2018 3:56 PM

Miami Herald: Life expectancy keeps falling under opioid crisis. Here’s how Florida bucks the trend.

Florida “has done more than any other state to reduce opioid sales,” says ConsumerProtect.Com. The consumer group just released a study using data from the Drug Enforcement Agency...


Sunday, December 2, 2018 2:44 AM

CNN: China agrees to make fentanyl a controlled substance after talks with US at G20 summit

China has agreed to reclassify fentanyl as a "controlled substance," in what the White House is calling a "wonderful humanitarian gesture" after the much-anticipated talks Saturday between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires, Argentina...


Thursday, November 29, 2018 12:00 AM

New York Times: ‘The Numbers Are So Staggering.’ Overdose Deaths Set a Record Last Year.

A class of synthetic drugs has replaced heroin in many major American drug markets, ushering in a more deadly phase of the opioid epidemic...


Thursday, November 15, 2018 12:00 AM

Recovery Unscripted: #79 Fixing the Florida Shuffle with Dave Aronberg

How can advocates make real strides in the opioid crisis when they have to fight against unethical practices in healthcare and bureaucracy in government? We’ll dive into this with State Attorney Dave Aronberg on this episode of Recovery Unscripted. For more about Recovery Unscripted, visit http://recoveryunscripted.org. For more about Dave's fight, visit https://www.fixthefloridashuffle.com.

Additional audio links:
iTunes
Spotify


Wednesday, November 14, 2018 11:12 AM

Palm Beach Post: Second person arrested in Loxahatchee Groves patient-brokering probe

The wife of a man arrested last week now faces 24 counts stemming from a sober home at a horse farm.

LOXAHATCHEE GROVES -- Four days after her husband was arrested on patient-brokering charges, a Loxahatchee Groves woman is in the Palm Beach County Jail facing similar charges...


Monday, November 12, 2018 7:48 AM

Palm Beach Post: Loxahatchee Groves horse farm owner accused of patient brokering

The co-owner of a sober home is facing 24 felony and one misdemeanor counts.

LOXAHATCHEE GROVES — The owner of a Loxahatchee Groves horse farm that doubled as a sober home was arrested Friday and is facing more than two dozen counts related to patient brokering, according to an arrest report...


Thursday, November 8, 2018 6:17 PM

CBS News: Father blames "body broker" after son dies during drug rehab

SAN FRANCISCO — It has been dubbed "the Florida Shuffle." Drug addicts from across the country get lured to the Sunshine State for decades with the promise of treatment, only to be traded from one unscrupulous drug rehab to another. Meanwhile, the patient's insurance company gets milked for tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges...


Thursday, November 8, 2018 6:05 PM

Palm Beach Post: Son of football coaching legend Schnellenberger accused of patient brokering

Timothy Schnellenberger and his wife face two dozen counts. They say they received ‘incorrect legal advice.’

WEST PALM BEACH — The son and daughter-in-law of former FAU and University of Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger are facing two dozen counts of patient brokering, according to documents obtained by The Palm Beach Post...


Monday, November 5, 2018 12:03 PM

Palm Beach Post: Sober-home operator submitted fake insurance claims, authorities say

BOYNTON BEACH — A man who with his wife operated a drug-treatment center and sober homes in Boynton Beach has been charged with filing more than $70,000 in fraudulent insurance claims, according to reports...


Friday, November 2, 2018 7:00 PM

Make Your Life Happen: Dave Aronberg - The Opioid Crisis & How Legislation & Perception is Changing to Stop This Epidemic

A serious issue that is affecting millions in our country and community is the opioid crisis. Hosts, Cynthia Heathcoe & Nicole Rymer are fortunate to talk to Palm Beach State Attorney, Dave Aronberg this week about the epidemic...


Friday, November 2, 2018 9:14 AM

Palm Beach Post: Aronberg, prosecutors recommend steps to fight opioid epidemic as it spreads

A paper offers advice to places across the U.S. just now experiencing the problem Palm Beach County has faced for years.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and his office still get calls from other jurisdictions asking for advice. Last week, it was South Carolina. Earlier this year, he and others went to California to help draft legislation. Recently, they went to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress. It's what happens when your county has been the epicenter for the opioid epidemic and you've had a few years to test and develop best practices...


Tuesday, October 23, 2018 6:17 PM

USA Today: Opioid 'patient brokers' who prey on the addicted finally get the treatment they deserve

As if people addicted to opioids don’t have enough trouble, shady operators have found a way to exploit them. Across the country, these “patient brokers” troll streets, drug courts and anywhere they might find people with addiction problems to lure them to treatment centers and “sober living homes” — usually illicit ones — in exchange for kickbacks. Internet and TV ads often promote the illegitimate facilities. And some phone hotlines, while offering to connect callers to legitimate treatment, instead collect referrals for facilities, selling them to the highest bidder...


Friday, October 19, 2018 9:45 AM

NDAA Publishes White Paper Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

ARLINGTON, Virginia – The National District Attorneys Association’s (NDAA) Opioid Working Group, comprised of 33 prosecutors from 30 states, published its Opioid Epidemic White Paper this week. After eight months of collaboration, the final product reflects the diverse views of prosecutors representing unique jurisdictions across the country...


Tuesday, October 16, 2018 6:00 PM

CBS 12: Despite reduced number of opioid deaths in PBC, many say more work still needs to be done

 

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office released new numbers Tuesday showing a 40 percent reduction in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the first nine months of 2018. The State Attorney for Palm Beach County Dave Aronberg credits multiple reasons for the reduced numbers, namely the availability of Narcan and the crackdown on sober homes...


Friday, October 5, 2018 5:40 PM

Sun Sentinel: Drug dealer first to be accused of murder under new law, prosecutor says

A man stands accused of first-degree murder after a deadly drug deal, marking a first in Palm Beach County under a new Florida law. Calvin Warren Jr. has been indicted on the murder charge after Thomas Matuseski overdosed from the fentanyl Warren provided, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said in a news release Friday...


Thursday, October 4, 2018 12:04 PM

Miami Herald: Rubio bill that penalizes corrupt drug-treatment centers passes Congress

WASHINGTON - Marco Rubio isn’t a big fan of the U.S. Senate’s often slow-moving ways, but he managed to get a bill passed in less than six months that allows the federal government to crack down on non-reputable drug recovery homes...


Monday, October 1, 2018 9:45 AM

MSNBC - Morning Joe: Inside America’s opioid crisis

Inside America’s opioid crisis: Dr. Dave Campbell appears on “Morning Joe”


Sunday, September 30, 2018 7:35 PM

CBS News - 60 Minutes: Who's responsible for the opioid epidemic? Doctors or pharmaceutical companies?

"In the annals of 60 Minutes, we have rarely come across a doctor like Florida physician Barry Schultz. Prosecutors say he wantonly prescribed and sold massive quantities of highly addictive opioids. In July, Schultz was sentenced to 157 years for his role in fueling the most devastating public health crisis of the 21 century. Last year more Americans died of drug overdoses than in the entire Vietnam War. While Schultz ended up in jail, Mallinckrodt, the pharmaceutical company that flooded Florida with hundreds of millions of oxycodone pills, paid a relatively small penalty. The question now being debated in Congress and in federal court is: who is responsible for the opioid epidemic? The doctors who prescribed the pills or the opioid manufacturers and distributors who supplied them?" ....


Friday, September 28, 2018 6:10 PM

Sun Sentinel: Bipartisan opioid bill will save lives in South Florida, supporters say

Amid partisan fighting over the future of the Supreme Court, Republicans and Democrats united to pass legislation Friday that supporters say will help put unscrupulous drug treatment providers out of business in South Florida and lower the region’s opioid death toll...


Friday, September 28, 2018 3:07 PM

OC Register: Empower local governments to regulate wayward sober homes, witnesses tell Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A day after California took its first firm legislative steps to reign in an out-of-control addiction treatment industry – and three days after prosecutors in Orange County 1 Comment – Congress took on the next piece of the puzzle:

How to reconcile laws that protect the disabled with the need to ensure that sober living homes aren’t dangerous flophouses? ...


Friday, September 28, 2018 9:55 AM

Orlando Sentinel: Florida opioid crisis: '60 Minutes' explores disaster

A Florida catastrophe — the opioid crisis — makes the 51st season premiere of “60 Minutes” this weekend.
The news magazine asks: Who is more responsible, doctors like Barry Schultz, or the manufacturers and distributors who supply huge amounts of the addictive drugs? ...


Thursday, September 27, 2018 3:55 PM

CBS News: Jailed doctor who prescribed opioids says he's a scapegoat, victim'smother calls him a murderer

Pain clinic pioneer Barry Schultz, now sentenced by a Florida judge to 157 years in prison for drug trafficking, says he is a scapegoat. The mother of his patient who died of an overdose after Schultz prescribed him hundreds of opioid pills calls him a murderer. Bill Whitaker continues to investigate the origins of the opioid epidemic on the 51st Season Premiere of 60 Minutes, Sunday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on CBS....


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