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Sober home operator Kenneth Chatman sentenced in federal court Wednesday to 27.5 years in prison

Posted at 6:21 AM, May 17, 2017

Kenneth Chatman has been sentenced to 27 and a half years in prison, nearly double the recommended sentence given to the court by the plea agreement made between federal prosecutors and Chatman’s defense attorneys.

Chatman pleaded guilty in March to running a health care fraud scheme at his treatment center Reflections treatment facility in Margate and Journey to Recovery in Palm Beach County. He also pleaded guilty to money laundering and human trafficking.

At Chatman’s sentencing, several families gave testimony and made a plea to Judge Donald Middlebrooks to give Chatman the maximum sentence.

One parent testified about his son’s experience in Chatman’s sober home and called it an “addiction brothel.”

“You should sentence this man for as long as it takes to bring back their children back, plus a day,” said Dr. Jerry Smith as he referred to family members who lost their loved ones to overdoses during or after they were in Chatman’s care.

One woman who wrote a handwritten letter to the Judge told her story under Chatman’s care. In her letter, she says Chatman kidnapped her and brought her to a house where she was strapped to a bedpost and raped for weeks.

“Men came in and paid him money to rape me. He had me extremely intoxicated on unknown sedatives and substances that I was going in and out of consciousness but was completely aware of myself being raped, molested, emotionally, mentally, physically, sexually abused and verbally demeaned. I recall close to 150 in total different faces of rapists abusing me daily over a period of 3 to 4 weeks," she wrote.

The 22-year-old woman told Judge Middlebrooks she was unrestrained for brief periods of time to be cleaned up. During a moment she was unrestrained, she said she jumped out of a window and flagged down a car and escaped.

One mother said her son Ryan overdosed and died while under Chatman’s care. Tina Pekar said she asked Chatman to send her his clothes and belongings so she could take in the scent of her son.

When she received a box from Chatman she said it contained women’s clothing and four used heroin needles.

Pekar said she was furious and called Chatman about what he had mailed to her and said his response was 'Ryan who?'

In court Wednesday morning Pekar turned and asked Chatman, “Do you remember my son now?”

Pekar said the ‘Ryan who?’ comment is what has kept her going to make sure justice was served.

Chatman was given the chance to speak but refused.

"He’s accepted responsibility and it appeared that there are some people that came our of the woodwork in the 11th hour that we really didn’t know much about," said Chatman's attorney Saam Zanganeh who said he did not have a chance to investigate allegations made in federal court by families Wednesday. 

Following Chatman’s sentencing, his wife Laura Chatman was also sentenced after pleading guilty to health care fraud.

Laura Chatman buried her face in her hands in court while hearing testimony from families of clients at Reflections Treatment Center. She gave a brief emotional statement in court. “I had no idea that he could do this. I don’t know what I can do to help your families, but I am truly sorry. I am truly sorry for your losses.”

"I don’t feel any sympathy or remorse for her, her apology meant nothing to me," said Sandra Hinkle who lost her daughter to an overdose.

Hinkle sent her daughter Katie to Chatman's treatment facility hoping it would cure her addiction.

"When I brought her home for Christmas to spend it with her little boy she begged me not to send her back. She said I’m afraid I’m never going to see you again," said Hinkle.

Hinkle said her daughter died a few days after leaving the treatment center.

Judge Middlebrooks sentenced Laura Chatman to 3 years in federal prison following 3 years of probation upon release. Her attorneys requested her prison sentence begin in 90 days due to having to make arrangements for her children. She is scheduled to begin her sentence in prison on August 15th.