Sober home operator pleads guilty to health care fraud, money laundering, and prostituting patients

Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-15 20:43:34-04
A local sober home operator accused of health care fraud, money laundering and prostituting female patients pleaded guilty to all three charges in federal court Wednesday. 
Kenneth Chatman and his wife Laura Chatman were arrested in a bust along with four others in December. 
Prosecutors read a laundry list of accusations in court Wednesday, telling Kenneth Chatman they would have proven he received kickbacks for getting patients to do expensive urine and saliva drug screening tests, that he threatened patients to keep them at his treatment facilities and coerced some of them into prostitution.
Wearing sunglasses and covering her head with a scarf, Laura Chatman walked out of the federal courthouse on bond after changing her plea to guilty. She and her husband are accused of a running a health care fraud scheme at Reflections treatment facility in Margate and Journey to Recovery in Palm Beach County.
"There's a lot of factors at play. We sat down and we did the appropriate assessment and he's [Kenneth Chatman] accepted responsibility and plead guilty to the three charges we plead to in the indictment," said attorney Saam Zangeneh. 
Prosecutors told Chatman they would prove he billed patients who were no longer at his treatment facility, that he allowed patients to keep using drugs as long as he could still bill their insurances, and that he threatened patients and forced some of them into prostitution. Chatman told the judge he did all of those things. 
Prosecutors said the offenses involve 10 or more victims; many of them have been notified of the sentencing hearing on May 17.
In 2015, NewsChannel 5 made contact with the family of one patient who went missing under Chatman's care.
Private investigator Joe Carrillo tried to help the family find the woman and says that's when he first learned of what was happening at treatment facilities. 
"It's the worse case I ever had of a person that I've recovered that's been on drugs," said Carrillo. "I didn't think she was going to make it." 
We learned the FBI interviewed that woman before Chatman's arrest in December.   
"She's still very fearful of him because it's not only Kenny Chatman, he has a network and they are all just as bad as him," said Carrillo. 
Kenneth and Laura Chatman will be sentenced May 17 at 10 a.m. at the Federal Courthouse in West Palm Beach. 
Kenneth Chatman could face maximum prison sentences of 10 years to life in prison for the charges he pleaded guilty to. The judge will make the ultimate decision on sentencing. 
The judge has also approved Chatman's request to transfer to the Federal Detention Center in Miami after his attorney says he has faced some issues with a medical condition and confrontations with other inmates because of the high profile nature of the case.
Chatman's attorney would not go into detail about the incident at the jail.