FBI and IRS Raid Florida Treatment Center

By John Lavitt 12/22/14

Both the Real Life Recovery Center and Halfway There Sober House are suspected of doling out kickbacks for patient referrals.

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FBI and IRS agents raided the Real Life Recovery Treatment Center and Halfway There Sober House on December 17. The authorities seized boxes of documents and computers. Though agents were willing to confirm the raid, they would not give any details on the ongoing investigation. With the added presence of the FBI, the specter of financial improprieties hangs over the institution.

A client who witnessed the raid described being in the middle of a group session at Real Life Recovery when federal agents entered the facility in the morning. Paul St. Andre expressed the fear felt by himself and the other clients when he said, "At first, everyone thought we were going to be homeless. But the owners assured us everything was going to be OK."

John Lehman, president of the Florida Association of Recovery Residences, detailed the distinction between the two facilities, explaining that a recovery residence is only a place to live as opposed to an actual licensed treatment center. Sober homes provide living arrangement for adults recovering from substance abuse after a stay at a treatment center or if a treatment center is not available. State of Florida business records show Eric Snyder owns both facilities, and reporters couldn’t reach him for comment.

New legislation up for vote in Florida in 2015 recommends that operators of sober homes receive voluntary certification with the Department of Children and Families. The bill also proposes a prohibition on rehab facilities that receive state funding from sending patients to uncertified sober homes while banning treatment centers from getting kickbacks from sober homes for patient referrals. The kickbacks are a major problem and could be another reason why the IRS was with the FBI when the facilities were raided.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.