The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force arrested six sober home operators on patient brokering charges Thursday, including one who once worked for the Florida Association of Recovery Residences — the state contracted non-profit that certifies sober homes.
All of the arrests are byproducts of cases filed earlier this year against the owners of treatment centers accused of paying sober home operators “case management fees” for every addict the operators enrolled in the treatment center, according to police reports.
Florida’s patient-brokering law makes it illegal to pay or accept “any commission, bonus, rebate, kickback, or bribe, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind,” for the referral of patients. But the industry, fueled by insurance payments, grew so lucrative that treatment centers found ways to make such payments to ensure a steady flow of patients.
According to arrest reports filed Thursday:
Sean Patrick O’Hara, 36, of Delray Beach was arrested on five counts of patient brokering for referring residents from his sober home, Life Rewritten LLC, to treatment centers owned by James Tomasso. O’Hara received $7,900 for the referrals, police reported.
Michael Martin, 35, of Boca Raton, was arrested on 24 counts of patient brokering for referring residents from his sober home, Fresh Beginnings, to Tomasso’s treatment centers. Martin received $19,400 for the referrals, police said.
Tomasso, 57, of Boca Raton, operated Pathways 2 Recovery in Boca Raton, Inspirations Recovery in Greenacres and Acceptance Recovery Center in Delray Beach from the offices of Global Recovery Resources, another business owned by Tomasso.
Tomasso pleaded guilty on Sept. 23 to 21 counts of patient brokering and was sentenced to 18 months and ordered to pay $107,328 in fines.
Scott Gillis and Bronwyn Finnegan, both 27 years old and living together in Delray Beach, were arrested Thursday on one count each of patient brokering.
According to the arrest report, Gillis and Finnegan operated Total Serenity Florida sober homes, also known as Gallop House, and received $9,000 for referring residents to Good Future, a Delray Beach treatment center also known as Chapters Recovery.
The owners of Chapters — Daniel Kandler, David Remland and Mark Desimone — and the admissions director, Sarah Muhammad, were arrested earlier this year on multiple counts of patient brokering.
Finnegan worked as an independent contractor and later a part-time employee at FARR, a Boca Raton-based non-profit contracted by the Department of Children and Families to oversee Florida’s voluntary sober-home certification program.
Finnegan, who left FARR in August 2016, helped prepare training materials and reports and reviewed complaints about sober homes submitted on FARR’s website.
Toni Marie Lucca, 55, of Delray Beach, also arrested Thursday, faces nine counts of patient brokering. According to police reports, Lucca received $7,900 from Tomasso for referring residents from her sober home, Pura Vida, to Tomasso’s treatment centers.
Also arrested Thursday, Bradley Vercosa, 50, of Wellington, faces 50 counts of patient brokering. The police report for Vercosa’s arrest was not available.
The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force has made 41 arrests on charges of patient brokering and insurance fraud since Oct. 25, 2016.