New charges in Kenny Chatman case: Evidence “massive”

 

New charges have been filed against a doctor who worked for Kenneth Chatman’s notorious sober home operation, where women addicts were prostituted, held against their will and allowed to continue using drugs, according to court records.

The new charges against Dr. Joaquin Mendez include conspiracy to commit health care fraud, giving a false statement relating to health-care fraud and money laundering.

Another doctor charged in the case, Dr. Donald Willems, is expected to appear in federal court this afternoon. Federal prosecutors want Willems bond revoked. They say he continued to work in a drug treatment center and continued prescribing drugs he was not authorized to prescribe – activities prohibited as a condition of his bond.IMG_0237.PNG

Mendez is one of two doctors charged with ordering unnecessary urine drug tests for addicts enrolled in Chatman’s treatment centers, Reflections and Journey.

Chatman and several alleged co-conspirators also operated numerous sober homes, including Stay’n Alive, Redemption Sober House and Total Recovery Sober Living, and an unnamed facility at 962 W. 43rd St., West Palm Beach.

All the facilities were in business to provide safe and drug-free residences for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, an industry fueled by a nationwide heroin epidemic.

But federal prosecutors, who have been investigating the industry in South Florida for more than two years, say they were more akin to fraud machines that engaged in human trafficking.

Three of the seven charged in the case have pleaded guilty. Court papers filed be a federal prosecutor say Chatman and his wife, Laura, also plan to plead guilty.

Dr. Mendez wants a trial, according to court papers.

Mendez attorney recently filed court papers asking for more time to prepare for trial, citing a “massive” amount of records accumulated as part of Operation Thoroughbred – the name of the federal task force investigating corruption in South Florida’s drug treatment industry.

Richard Lubin, a veteran attorney with a career full of high-profile cases, wrote in court papers that the amount of evidence against his client is more than he has seen in 42-years of practice.

How much evidence?

326 gigabytes of digital records copied onto an encrypted hard drive.
236,245 digital files organized into 8,307 folders.
16,064 records in 133 files of patient data
1,719 patient case files with as many as 600 pages in each file.
30 FBI taped interviews
225 boxes of paper documents that prosecutors say will take 6-8 weeks to copy

All the facilities were in business to provide safe and drug-free residences for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, an industry fueled by a nationwide heroin epidemic.

But federal prosecutors, who have been investigating the industry in South Florida for more than two years, say they were more akin to fraud machines that engaged in human trafficking. These are the first charges to be filed from the federal probe.

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