Sober Homes Task Force: More Arrests Made For Patient Brokering In FL
Update 03/02/2017: 20 arrests so far in the Sober Homes Task Force raids in Palm Beach County, Fl.
Update 12/15/2016: 9 arrests have now been reported by The Palm Beach Post. Alex Vandervert, owner of Saje House and the most recent arrest, had received over $3,000 from Whole Life Recovery in exchange for patients.
Palm Beach County, Fl – As part of an ongoing effort to manage Palm Beach County’s growing addiction crisis, the recently established Sober Homes Task Force has made another arrest.
Sober Homes Task Force Cleanup
Paying for patients
Ehab Iskander, 33, of West Palm Beach was arrested in late November and charged with six counts of patient brokering. The arrest was the fifth in a series of takedowns that began back in October. At the center of the patient brokering scheme was an organization called Whole Life Recovery, run by CEO James Kigar.
According to The Palm Beach Post, Kigar’s plan worked like this: He set up an arrangement in which his organization would pay what he dubbed “case management fees,” in exchange for patient referrals. The patients had to have insurance and attend weekly meetings in order to “qualify” for the kickbacks. He was busted and arrested when one of the people he was receiving referrals from turned out to be a confidential informant.
Working through consultant Christopher Hutson, who was arrested alongside Kigar in October, the informant would find addicts who had insurance and send them to Whole Life Recovery. In exchange for the referrals, the informant received between $400 and $500 per week per patient.
Amanda LaFrance, is the youngest and only woman to be arrested and charged in her involvement in the patient brokering scam. She is facing 13 counts at this time. LaFrance was depositing checks that she received from Whole Life Recovery. Deon Hill, her 50-year-old business partner and father of her 6-month-old daughter had deposited one of those checks. Hill is being held without bond on an unrelated armed robbery charges.
Scamming people at their most vulnerable
The Post reports that Kigar had a similar arrangement with Iskander, who ran a transitional sober living facility called Integrity House in Lake Worth. From April through June of this year, Whole Life Recovery paid Iskander more than $2,000 for patient referrals.
Transitional facilities are supposed to provide a safe place for recently sober people to live. One of the biggest challenges for people new to recovery is maintaining social support, and living environments have a lot to do with this. Transitional sober living facilities, or halfway houses as they’re sometimes called, are designed to be places where addicts can re-enter society while being surrounded by other people who are also sober. Naturally, it’s a time when people are particularly vulnerable.
Iskander, Kigar and several others took advantage of this vulnerability, exploiting addicts for their own monetary gain.
State Attorney Dave Aronberg formed the Sober Home Task Force back in July as a pointed effort to clean up what has become a rampant issue in South Florida. Speaking to news outlets after the first wave of arrests, Aronberg said he looked forward to cleaning up the industry. “We’re going to hold those accountable who have destroyed lives so needlessly.”
Getting help from a qualified provider
The addiction epidemic has gripped the nation, and South Florida is no exception. Unfortunately, in the wake of tragic circumstances, there will always be those who choose greed and power above human decency.
If you’re struggling with addiction in your life, or need help for someone you love, do your research. Look for facilities that have credentials, and that have experience in the industry. Look for a proven track record of compassionate care.
If you don’t know where to turn, we can help. Call us any time: 1-800-861-1768.
Click here to learn more about the Sober Homes Task Force.Tags: halfway house, heroin overdose, sober task force