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

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.

The most recent takedown was Jennifer Swanson and Bradley Gaver of Pure Thoughts at Turtle Creek in Loxahatchee for racketeering, patient brokering, and negligent homicide after authorities said three patients died on their watch.

“What started as a crackdown on rogue sober homes has expanded to corruption of laboratories, amongst doctors even among treatment providers who are negligent in the care of people who are in treatment,” said Aronberg.

On Feb. 4, authorities arrested Natalie Skochinsky of Southhampton, Pennsylvania on patient brokering charges. Police said she is accused of offering kickbacks to representatives in South Florida who would sent patients urine to the Pennsylvania facility she worked for.

Since 2016, the Sober Homes Task Force has made 103 arrests.

“Well we definitely have a large population, but one of the good things about being the center of the problem is sometimes we are the first for a solution,” said Chief Program Officer Ryan Wertepny.

The Hanley Foundation has been in West Palm Beach since the 1980s. They target today’s youth with catchy promotions, while also helping people throughout Palm Beach County find facilities to treat their addictions.

“We have people in the office that actually vet the treatment centers to find the best option,” said Wertepny.

However, for those who are in the industry for the wrong reasons, Aronberg said in the next few months they are going to be targeting even bigger offenders and believe it will result in even more arrests.

“Some things we’ve done also is use new laws on the books against fentanyl, which is now the new face of the opioid epidemic more people die from fentanyl today then any other opioid,” said Aronberg.

If you want to report something to the Sober Homes Task Force, you can do so by calling 1-844-324-5463.

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