Sober home operator Ken Chatman indicted on new charges

Treatment center operator Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman on Thursday pleaded not guilty to a sweeping 17-count indictment that accuses him of money laundering, health-care fraud and sex trafficking, a charge that could send him to prison to life.

Many of his exploits were detailed in a December 2015 investigation by The Palm Beach Post.

Federal officials raid a sober home at 1501 N. Federal Hwy., Lake Worth, on Dec. 21, 2016. Officials charged owner Kenny Chatman and five others with health-care fraud in an ongoing crackdown on sober homes in Palm Beach County. Chatman has been the subject of Palm Beach Post investigative stories detailing fraud in the sober home industry. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
Federal officials raid a sober home at 1501 N. Federal Hwy., Lake Worth, on Dec. 21 shortly after Kenny Chatman’s arrest. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

The indictment, handed up Tuesday, showcases federal prosecutors plan to shut down what they called the 46-year-old suburban Boynton Beach man’s illicit drug treatment empire that stretched from Mangonia Park in Palm Beach County to Plantation in Broward County and brought in an estimated $5.4 million.

Read the Post’s full investigation on Sober Homes

Chatman’s 44-year-old wife, Laura, along with two doctors who worked at the treatment centers and three others were also indicted, most on money-laundering and health-care fraud charges.

Read the indictment here: chatmanindict.

The five others, who were released on bond after being charged in a criminal complaint last month, also pleaded not guilty to the new charges this week. A sixth, who was not originally charged, is to appear in court Monday.

“It’s the beginning of a long journey,” Chatman’s attorney Saam Zangeneh said after the brief hearing before U.S. Magistrate William Matthewman. He pledged to vigorously defend Chatman, who remains jailed as a flight risk and a danger to the community.

At a previous hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafana suggested she would also ask a grand jury to indict Chatman in connection with overdose deaths that she said occurred at the sober homes he operated. But, she said, those charges would take more time to prepare. Chatman was not charged in connection with any deaths.

Still the charges he faces in connection with his involvement with Journey to Recovery in suburban Lake Worth and Reflections Treatment Center in Margate along with dozens of sober homes are serious. Journey to Recovery and Reflections were both licensed drug treatment centers. As a convicted felon, Chatman was barred from holding the licenses so he and his wife illegally told authorities she was operating them, according to the indictment.

Rather than treating patients, the indictment claims Chatman made a fortune by taking advantage of them along with insurance companies. He turned female patients into prostitutes. He paid kickbacks to five laboratories – in South and Central Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania – to get them to test bogus urine samples, according to the indictment.

In addition to Chatman and his wife, also indicted were: Joaquin Mendez and Donald Willems, both doctors; Fransesia Davis, who worked at the two treatment centers; Michael Bonds, a sober home operator;  and Stefan Gatt, who worked at a lab in Central Florida.






White House Secret Service agent appears in WPB court on child porn charges

A 38-year-old former U.S. Secret Service agent who is accused in Delaware of sending explicit photos of himself to as many as 30 underage girls while working at the White House appeared in federal court in West Palm Beach this week to face similar child exploitation charges here.

Lee Robert Moore sent this photo of himself to a minor while working at the White House, federal prosecutors said. (U.S. District Court of Delaware)

Lee Robert Moore, who was brought to South Florida last week from a federal detention center in Philadelphia, is charged with production of child pornography, attempted receipt of child pornography and use of a computer to persuade, entice or coerce a minor to engage in a sex act. The most serious charge the former U.S. Marine faces carries a possible life sentence and $250,000 fine.

According to an indictment a Broward County grand jury handed up in June, the offenses occurred between January and May 2014. It is unclear based on court papers filed here whether agents believe Moore committed the crimes while tasked with guarding President Obama and the first family.

But, prosecutors in Delaware said Moore, who lives with his wife and two children in Church Hill, Md., admitted he engaged in online sexual chats with minors while he was working at what they described as “one of the most secure places on the planet.”

“He did so while in the presence of other highly trained law enforcement officers and just yards from the President of the United States, his family and senior administration officials he was then protecting,” they wrote after Moore’s arrest in November.

Moore told federal agents he was unsure how many underage girls he contacted on his phone and other mobile devices, prosecutors said. He said “it could be four, it could be thirty,” but indicated it was probably about 10, they wrote.

Moore, who attended the U.S. Naval Academy, is charged in Delaware with one count of attempting to transfer obscene material to a minor. For months last year, agents for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said he sent dozens of sexually-charged messages and explicit photos of himself to an undercover agent, whom he believed was a 14-year-old girl.

In court papers that hinted at the looming South Florida charges, federal prosecutors in November said the Delaware charge was the least serious one he would face.

A federal magistrate in Delaware ordered that Moore be held without bond. Noting the serious nature of the allegations, Moore’s job as a guardian of the president, his military training and the number of loaded weapons he kept in his house, U.S. Magistrate Sherry Fallon said there were no set of conditions she could fashion that would assure the military sharpshooter wouldn’t flee.

He is to be back in federal court in West Palm Beach on Wednesday for a detention hearing. He has been declared indigent and is represented by a federal public defender.

Retrial begins for men accused of forcing Delray teens into sex acts

Defendants Massillon Lherisson (above) and Francisco Henry (not pictured) sit in court today as a victim testified in the sexual assault case against the two men at the Palm Beach County Courthouse Monday, July 9, 2012.
Defendants Massillon Lherisson (above) and Francisco Henry (not pictured) sit in court today as a victim testified in the sexual assault case against the two men at the Palm Beach County Courthouse Monday, July 9, 2012.

When a group of four students from Atlantic High school decided to skip school after lunch on Feb. 18, 2010, prosecutors told a jury Thursday, they never imagined that it would end with a bizarre and violent encounter with a pair of strangers that made them commit sex acts on one another at gunpoint.

Assistant State Attorney Jo Wilensky told jurors that Massillon Lherisson, 25, and Francisco Henry, 26 – both facing 17 counts of armed sexual battery, three counts of armed robbery, and four counts of unlawful imprisonment – found the teens playing cards in an abandoned house and played with them for a while before Lherisson took out a gun.

Wilensky and fellow prosecutor Chrichet Mixon say the victims will testify that the two men then forced them to put all their belongings on the counter.

“But that wasn’t enough, that wasn’t enough for Lherisson,” Wilensky said, adding that the pair then sexually assaulted the only girl in the group of four and eventually had the four of them perform sexual acts on one another.

Henry’s attorneys, Crystal Kim and Joseph Walsh, and Lherisson’s attorney, Joshua LeRoy, told jurors in their opening statements that neither of their clients was involved in the attack.

Kim told jurors that the case against Henry was one of mistaken identity. Delray Beach Police placed a photo of Henry, who had twists in his hair, into a photo lineup with five other men with closely cropped hair after witnesses identified one of the assailants as having dreadlocks.

Defendant Francisco Henry (above) and Massillon Lherisson (not pictured) sit in court today as a victim testified in the sexual assault case against the two men at the Palm Beach County Courthouse July 9, 2012.
Defendant Francisco Henry (above) and Massillon Lherisson (not pictured) sit in court today as a victim testified in the sexual assault case against the two men at the Palm Beach County Courthouse July 9, 2012.

The first witnesses in the trial are expected to be the alleged victims.

Lherisson and Henry first stood trial in 2012, but that trial ended in a mistrial shortly before prosecutors rested their case.

Sex offender already serving prison time gets 10 more years

Peter Eaffaldano

A 64-year-old sex offender earned a return trip to prison for 10 years Wednesday after he accepted a plea in a case where he is accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl he babysat.

Peter Eaffaldano pleaded guilty to a single charge of lewd and lascivious molestation in a case where a girl who now lives in New York told police that Eaffandano touched her in a sexual manner when she was four years old and he was her babysitter in Palm Beach County.

Between 2007 and 2010, several girls came forward and said Eaffaldano molested them, according to police reports. And he faced more charges after someone found a memory card at his former home that contained photos of him molesting other girls.

Court records show that he is also currently serving cu

Circuit Judge Krista Marx sentenced Eaffaldano Wednesday under the terms of a plea agreement with Assistant State Attorney Gregory Schiller, who told Marx that he’s promised Eaffaldano that prosecutors will not reopen any prior cases against him as part of the agreement.