In May, state authorities charged the owner of that sober home with three counts of patient brokering for allegedly accepting kickbacks to send his tenants to London Treatment Center.
NBC News made several requests for an interview with operators of London Treatment Center in early 2016 but was told by a representative that medical privacy laws prohibited them from commenting. No one would speak to NBC News on a visit to the center in June.
This month, State Attorney Aronberg’s office charged the owners of London Treatment Center with 62 counts of patient brokering. Court documents allege Mark Johnston and Jordi Martinez-Garcia paid sober home operators $500 to $600 a week for each patient sent to the rehab. Two of the sober home owners who spoke to police were allegedly paid more than $256,000 since early 2016 to refer patients to the center, court documents show.
“There are no allegations in the probable cause affidavit that the health and safety of any patient of London Treatment Center were violated at any time,” Adam Frankel, the attorney for London’s owners, told NBC News in a statement. He said that his clients have been treated unfairly and had previously cooperated with investigators voluntarily and “look forward to the opportunity to present their side of the story in this matter.”
How to Find a Good Drug Treatment Program
For those within the industry trying to do things right, stepped-up enforcement has been a double-edged sword, said John Lehman, CEO of Florida Association of Recovery Residences, an industry group for sober home operators. Many of the ethical operators were those who first alerted authorities about fraud and patient brokering. They also participated in passing
legislation recently signed into law to create better oversight and regulation of sober homes and treatment center.
But because of the bad publicity, the stain on South Florida has also spread to those trying to do things right.
“The broad brush of bad actions and illegal activity is painting across everybody,” said Lehman. “There are so many good programs down here that have held on, and they feel they are being persecuted. They were the ones who sounded the alarm in the first place.”
Lehman said he hopes that the South Florida recovery community can weather this storm in part because the opioid epidemic has created a desperate need for places that foster long-term recovery.
“Just putting people into a treatment center and then giving them a gold coin, and sending them home, does not work,” he added. “You’ve got to support them to develop recovery legs. This is a great place to do that, if there’s anybody left standing when this is all over.”