Aug. 27–Expensive cars. Flashy watches. Strip clubs. Casinos. Tattoos. Selfies of ripped biceps and b-boy stances.
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This is the affairs of Eric Snyder, one of a brand of 20-something addicts who came to Florida to get apple-pie and concluded up authoritative fortunes by accommodation and alleviative adolescent addicts and testing their urine.
Armed with little added than GEDs, a year or two of abnegation and no academic training in actuality abuse, they accept albatross for accommodation and alleviative added millennials with addiction — the No. 1 analgesic of their generation.
Two years ago, Snyder, 29, bent the absorption of a federal assignment force investigating hundreds of millions of dollars annual of allowance fraud, kickbacks and accommodating brokering in Palm Beach County’s biologic analysis industry. Snyder landed in annual aback his businesses were raided by the FBI in December 2014 — the additional of two high-profile raids by the assignment force.
Although no accuse accept been filed adjoin Snyder, admirable board subpoenas went out in December, accompaniment analytic annal acquired by The Palm Beach Column show.
Three aloft advisers say Snyder’s analysis affairs agents artificial medical annal to aggregate on allowance money, analytic files and acknowledged abstracts show. A doctor in a contempo degradation said abundant the aforementioned thing: His authorization was acclimated to adjustment urine biologic screens afterwards his permission.
How abundant did Snyder accomplish over the years? Added than $50 million, one antecedent abutting to the analysis said.
Read the Post’s analysis — Addiction Treatment: Inside the Gold Rush
Even afore the raid, accompaniment board had baldheaded a accumulation of adverse practices: medications in bare envelopes, patients demography detox medications afterwards a decree and agents amateur to allocate the drugs.
Among the added cogent discoveries: 200 unrefrigerated urine samples, abounding afterwards names on labels, in a makeshift lab and accessible to be activated at an allowance company’s expense.
No arrests accept been made, but Snyder charcoal on the alarm of at atomic one federal agency, the Internal Revenue Service. In March the IRS filed a lien, adage Snyder owed $2 actor in aback taxes.
“Eric seemed like he had his adenoids in the air … a self-proclaimed bad ass,” said one recovered addict. “It was the attitude that a lot of guys accept bottomward there — adorned cars, lots of bling, bags of steroids and Red Bull — the Delray amateur kit” — apropos to the burghal that’s accepted as the adjust basic of the United States.
Snyder, through his attorney, beneath to acknowledgment questions.
Prized addicts — those with insurance
But cloister records, authorization applications, accompaniment inspections and interviews call a adolescent convalescent aficionado and acute agent who abstruse how to get affluent quick in the circuitous apple of marketing, insurance, medical announcement and urine testing.
The urine of biologic addicts with allowance is annual millions of dollars to the operators of labs, abstaining homes and accelerated outpatient programs, such as those Snyder operated. Addicts with acceptable allowance are so admired that the admiral accept dubbed their analysis Operation Thoroughbred, The Column has learned.
Insurance companies generally are billed as abundant as $5,000 for a distinct urine biologic screen. Although insurers pay a atom of that — amid $1,500 and $2,000 — with addicts activated three or added times a week, the profits add up fast.
Addiction professionals say there is no medical charge to analysis all convalescent addicts so often.
Into this environment, Snyder appeared an angel to some and a profiteer to others.
Supporters say he was committed to his own accretion and alike becoming the acknowledgment of addicts who endemic dogs aback Halfway There became the alone abstaining home to acquiesce pets.
Some nights, he hosted cine nights and installed a ample awning on a blocked artery at Halfway There, a accumulating of single-story accommodation barrio on two blocked streets in a abandoned adjacency in Delray Beach. Added allowances included haircuts and manicures every added Tuesday, gym workouts and ice chrism and movies.
Some say he cared added about authoritative money than accepting addicts clean. He gave scholarships — chargeless appoint — to uninsured addicts. However, sometimes — unbeknownst to uninsured addicts who accustomed the freebies — they were active up for insurance. Again their premiums and deductibles were paid to awning their analysis and urine biologic tests, the actuality abutting to the analysis said.
Investigators catechism inducements such as chargeless or discounted rent, and whether they breach Florida’s anti-kickback law and allowance artifice laws.
Former advisers say Snyder overbilled for biologic tests and analysis at Real Activity Recovery. They additionally said audience were sexually addled by advisers and there was little anatomy and conduct at Halfway There, his abstaining home complex.
“Snyder did a absolutely acceptable job of authoritative it attending able for a continued time but so abounding things started happening,” said the recovered addict, who said he afraid out with Snyder and had accompany who formed at Halfway There.
First abstaining business started at age 23
Before advancing to Florida in October 2009, Snyder said in his resume that he formed for three years at Sober.com — a New Jersey-based business abutting that connects addicts with analysis facilities. Snyder claimed he was 18 aback he started at Sober.com and that he was the accounts manager, amenable for banknote flow, budgeting, amount and accounts receivable.
That annual was contradicted by Harold Jonas, a acclaimed amount in Palm Beach County’s accretion community, who created Sober.com in New Jersey in 2002. Jonas said Snyder never formed for him.
Snyder, an analgesic addict,arrived in Florida afterwards commutual a 30-day analysis affairs in New Jersey.
Like abounding added anew recovered adolescent addicts, Snyder actual his adulation of abnegation on his Facebook folio by commendation self-affirmations and slogans from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
“i will strive to be the best actuality i can be today!!,” Snyder wrote on Dec. 12, 2009. “life is not a chase it is a journy (sic) … aloof bethink aggregate dosage (sic) not accept to be able today… the admeasurement of a acceptable day is how acceptable you feel about yourself!!!”
On Aug. 31, 2010 — Snyder’s aboriginal ceremony of actuality apple-pie — he had a new boom accoutrement his aback and a abundant girlfriend. He batten at 12-step affairs and had a aggregation of abstaining friends.
A ages later, he was in the abstaining home business. He headed A Safe Abode LLC with acquaintance Carie Lyn Douglas. Both had been association and again advisers at A Safe Place. Aback the buyer larboard boondocks and lenders bankrupt on the bristles battered homes it ran, Snyder, 23 at the time, and Douglas, again 32, bought the business and began affective association of A Safe Abode into backdrop they busy elsewhere.
Among their aboriginal backdrop was a 1,400-square-foot, three-bedroom home they busy in September 2010 on Curlew Road in Delray Beach. The appoint was $1,450 a month.
Without the owner’s permission or a architecture permit, Snyder and Douglas congenital a bank and adapted the dining allowance into a bedroom, buyer Shelda Bannon said. Eight anew convalescent addicts confused in. Each paid $200 a ceremony in rent, accretion $6,400 a ages for Snyder and Douglas.
“They aloof saw the money,” said Bannon, who endemic the home with her husband, a therapist who advised convalescent addicts. “It was all about greed. It wasn’t about people.”
According to cloister records, four months into the lease, Snyder and Douglas chock-full advantageous rent. However, they didn’t stop accession it from the men who lived there. In a letter to the adjudicator administration boot proceedings, the tenants said they affected Snyder and Douglas paid the appoint because they were advantageous Snyder and Douglas. They weren’t.
When the men assuredly confused out in March 2011, Bannon begin all-encompassing accident acquired by the convalescent addicts and their three pit bulls.
“The dogs ate the baseboards, tiles were cracked, and they congenital an added wall,” Bannon said. “They absolutely destroyed my home.”
Bannon awash the house.
320 visits by badge to Snyder’s abstaining home
With the boot case still pending, Snyder appear in a Facebook column on Dec. 11, 2010, that he and Douglas were aperture 43 apartments in Delray Beach that would be accepted as Halfway There.
“These are the promises,” Snyder wrote, referencing the 12 promises in the Big Book of Alcoholics Bearding that agreement a “new activity and new happiness” to those who agilely chase the 12-steps.
Business boomed. Dozens of 20-something addicts confused into Halfway There. Audience were supervised by abode managers, who were appropriate to be apple-pie for at atomic six months, appear 12-step affairs and assignment with added addicts. They were not appropriate to accept any training or apprenticeship in actuality abuse, according to cloister papers.
“They were adored baby-sitters, if you may,” Snyder’s partner, Douglas, said in a degradation in May. The accusation was filed by a mother whose babe overdosed and died at a bargain cabin area Halfway There agents took her afterwards she relapsed. “House managers aloof affectionate of oversaw what happened in their house,” Douglas said.
By June 2011, Delray Beach badge began responding to calls at Halfway There. Initially, the calls were mostly amiable — disturbances, apprehensive activity, fights and cartage stops. As added and added addicts confused in, the calls — and their severity — increased. Among the calls: a rape, a missing person, adolescent corruption and abundant medical calls.
Police visited Halfway There about 320 times and added patrols were assigned.
In December 2014, the FBI bedeviled abstracts and computers. Six months later, Snyder awash Halfway There to a Broward-based analysis business alleged Satori Waters.
Money advance out like arena cards
The big money is not in accession appoint from addicts. It is in testing their urine. Allowance companies will pay for biologic tests alone if they’re ordered by a doctor at a accountant analysis facility.
In 2012, Snyder and Douglas created their own accountant analysis program, alleged Real Activity Recovery, which offered accelerated outpatient analysis and fractional analysis programs beneath a medical director.
According to a fee agenda included in their authorization application, accelerated outpatient analysis was $1,025 per session, day/night analysis with accommodation was $1,475, and urine biologic screens were $1,500.
Money began cloudburst in. Posts on Snyder’s Facebook folio in March and November 2012 appearance his accomplishment from casinos — hundred dollar bills fanned out like arena cards.
On July 7, 2012, Snyder acquaint a photo on his Facebook folio of a new red Ford Mustang with white antagonism stripes and the awning open: “New car no big deal.”
Three canicule later, badge arrested him in the car afterwards he sped off during a cartage stop in Boynton Beach. According to the badge report, Snyder angry off his lights and pulled into the aback parking lot at a Walmart, area he was caught.
Although originally answerable with two felonies, Snyder pleaded accusable to a abomination and was bedevilled to the two canicule in bastille he already had served afore announcement bail.
Ex-employees affirmation forgeries
Meanwhile the new outpatient analysis program, Real Activity Recovery, brought in alike added money but its success came at a price: inspections, regulations and blank by the Department of Children and Families. By 2013, DCF began accepting complaints.
In a whistle-blower complaint, aloft therapist Shada Overton said she believed her signature — “Shada O” — had been artificial on accommodating annal anon afterwards she was accursed on March 19, 2013, so allowance could be billed.
The doctor whose signature additionally appeared on the annal accommodated three canicule later, citation apropos about his signature on accommodating documents.
“Any certificate accustomed beneath my signature … afterwards the aloft date and time should be construed as crooked and may aggregate a base for fraud,” Dr. Stephen Heelan wrote in his abandonment email.
DCF took no activity because the signatures could not be verified.
In a degradation fabricated accessible on Thursday, Dr. Michael Ligotti, a aloft medical administrator at Real Activity Recovery, said he had never apparent or ordered urine biologic screens for Nicole Cronin, a adolescent aficionado who overdosed and died afterwards actuality kicked out of Halfway There.
Cronin’s mother, who is suing Snyder and his businesses, has medical bills assuming Ligotti’s ordered the tests.
Ligotti said in the degradation that addition at Halfway There was application his name to adjustment urine biologic tests afterwards his permission. He became so anxious that he asked his advocate to accelerate a cease and abandon letter to Halfway There.
In August 2013, addition aloft agent filed a complaint. Among her accusations: back-dated and biased applicant records, allowance claims for casework not provided, amateur therapists and 50 percent discounted appoint for Halfway There association who agreed to go to Real Activity Accretion for analysis — a accessible abuse of Florida’s anti-kickback law.
During the DCF investigation, two aloft advisers accepted the accusations.
A adviser who advised operations at Real Activity Accretion for Snyder begin the analysis did not accommodated requirements for care. He additionally begin “a lot” of backdating of abstracts and issues with medical records.
Snyder beneath to appoint the adviser to fix the problems, according to DCF records.
But aback DCF admiral paid a abruptness appointment to Real Activity Recovery, patients’ archive showed analysis affairs were in abode and completed on time. An analysis of three cadre files begin therapists met educational requirements.
As for claims that allowance companies were answerable for casework not provided, DCF board said the complaint was “not aural the ambit of DCF authority” and referred the aloft agent to the accompaniment Division of Allowance Fraud.
Resignations of advisers ensue
More complaints and red flags surfaced.
On Jan. 12, 2014, Lindsie Brown, a accountant brainy bloom counselor, accommodated as analytic administrator at Real Activity Recovery. In an email to DCF officials, Brown said she had abstruse of “felonious and bent behavior” and “immoral and bent practices” that had resulted in a fasten in relapses.
“These practices accept put my authorization at accident which explains why I am resigning,” Brown wrote. With her departure, Real Activity Accretion “is assuming business and ameliorative casework with no accountant professionals on staff.”
Two months later, an bearding complaint came to DCF, anecdotic a assistant giving audience medications assigned to added association until their prescriptions could be filled.
“This abode is all about demography on audience in adjustment to get money from allowance companies instead of absolutely allowance the audience get better,” the bearding columnist wrote.
Four association questioned by a DCF investigator acknowledged the claim. No activity was taken.
In September 2014, a mother filed an bearding complaint with DCF about boundless biologic testing. In the four canicule her 21-year-old son went to Real Activity Recovery, his urine was activated three times at $1,500 per test. Also, aback her son larboard adjoin medical advice, advisers banned to accord him his claimed belongings, including his cellphone and computer, the mother declared in her complaint.
That larboard her son clumsy to acquaintance her and he was mugged that night, she said. Her son alternate the abutting day and was accustomed his belongings. Afterwards DCF investigated, Halfway There and Real Activity Accretion afflicted their acquittal policies, accordant to acknowledgment all claimed items.
Routine armpit visits appear added problems. Random sampling of applicant files found:
— No medical histories or active accord forms for biologic testing.
— No analysis plans.
— No accounting assessments of clients’ abstruse needs, banking status, airy or religious values, cultural influences or cerebral or concrete trauma.
— No affairs for disasters, such as hurricanes.
About the aforementioned time, Snyder began authoritative affairs to woo wealthier addicts with flush abstaining homes. Aloof over a fence on the south ancillary of Halfway There, Snyder eyed eight accoutrements on Lucky Lane, a cul-de-sac area several identical homes were actuality congenital on speculation.
The two-story homes featured manicured lawns, copse floors, stainless animate appliances, acme molding, granite countertops and appulse windows, a all-inclusive footfall up from the apartments on the added ancillary of the fence. In October 2014, Snyder asked DCF to add the homes to his absolute licenses.
On the morning of Dec. 17, 2014, agents from the FBI, Postal Service and accompaniment artifice board descended on the offices of Real Activity Accretion and Halfway There. They larboard with boxes of paperwork and computers. It was the additional arrest by the assignment force in three months. In September, Acceptable Decisions Abstaining Living in West Palm Beach shut bottomward afterwards a agnate raid.
However, Snyder did not abutting his doors. In March 2015, he completed the alteration paperwork. In June, he awash the assets of Real Activity Accretion to a Fort Lauderdale-based analysis provider alleged Satori Waters, which currently leases the homes on Lucky Lane. Corporate annal appearance no articulation amid the admiral of Satori Waters and Snyder.
In September, No Limit Holdings, a aggregation controlled by Snyder, bought the backdrop for $1.6 million, advantageous cash, acreage annal show.
Today, Snyder says, besides the appoint he collects from Satori Waters, he is out of the analysis business.
(c)2016 The Palm Beach Column (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Visit The Palm Beach Column (West Palm Beach, Fla.) at www.palmbeachpost.com
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