500 New Yorkers to Lose Jobs As Doomed 'Rehab Empire' Collapses

By Neville Elder 08/12/15

Father-son owners Alan and Jason Brand are currently facing federal charges for scamming Medicaid.

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Narco Freedom is closing its doors. All 500 employees at New York’s largest rehab chain will be out of work on September 21.

In addition, over 3,000 patients will be affected by the collapse of the "rehab empire" that spans 18 residential homes, as well as outpatient services including methadone maintenance programs (MMTP).

Father-son owners Alan and Jason Brand are currently facing federal charges for milking approximately $40 million from Medicaid annually to create a "piggy bank" they used for luxury homes and cars for themselves and family members. Narco Freedom holds $6.3 million in New York State contracts to administer drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment programs to the most vulnerable and impoverished addicts in recovery.

In a letter to employees dated July 28, attorney Lori Lapin Jones—the temporary receiver handling the bankruptcy proceedings—revealed Narco Freedom is completely drained of cash:

“While it was anticipated that ... closure would occur over a longer period of time," she said, "the temporary receiver has determined that the closure must occur on an expedited timeframe as [Narco Freedom] has insufficient cash to complete this process.”

The news came just days after Jones filed a scathing report in Manhattan Federal Court that said, "The finances of this organization are designed to lose money."

When reached for comment, an employee at the executive office of Narco Freedom, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Fix, “This is a sad state of affairs. It will cause devastation to the community. Employees are living paycheck to paycheck."

All workers will receive a final paycheck that won’t include any paid leave owed to them.

Plans are currently underway to save some of the rehab’s facilities. Samaritan Village will take over some of the houses. Outpatient services such as methadone programs in Red Hook, Brooklyn, will be absorbed by Acacia, and Neighborhood and Family will be taken over by a local Bronx medical organization. Bridge Plaza in Long Island will reportedly shutdown.

Employees of Narco Freedom may have the opportunity to be rehired by these other companies, though there are no guarantees.

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British born Neville Elder is a writer,photographer and filmmaker. He's been sober since 2006, lived in New York since 2001 and is in no hurry to move back to a Brexited Britain. He writes the odd murder ballad with his band Thee Shambels and teaches photography at the New York Institute of photography. Find him on Linkedin and Twitter.