Crime

Aventura man charged with taking $1 million in kickbacks in opioid rehab scheme, cops say

In the charges against Adam Adler, an Aventura man who owned substance abuse treatment centers, patients’ urine samples were sent to labs that paid him kickbacks, according to law enforcement authorities.
In the charges against Adam Adler, an Aventura man who owned substance abuse treatment centers, patients’ urine samples were sent to labs that paid him kickbacks, according to law enforcement authorities.

The Aventura owner of addiction treatment facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties has been arrested and charged with sending his patients’ urine samples to a lab that allegedly paid him more than $1 million in kickbacks, the Florida Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.

Adam Adler, 35, is charged with multiple counts of patient brokering and felony money laundering. His arrest stemmed from an investigation involving the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in addition to the Attorney General’s Office.

“In recent years, Florida has seen an increasing number of fraud cases in the substance abuse and recovery industry,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody in a press release. “It is appalling that anyone would take advantage of people trying to break the grip of addiction, especially amid this national opioid crisis that is claiming 17 lives a day in Florida.”

An arrest affidavit states Adler directed two treatment centers, Holistic Recovery Centers, a sober home based in North Miami Beach, and Imperium Wellness in Tamarac, a substance abuse residential treatment center.

From February 2017 through February 2019, the two centers sent patients’ urine samples for testing to Pennsylvania-based SMA Labs, the Attorney General’s Office says.

According to the affidavit, the most common form of urine testing performed at sober homes and treatment facilities is a test in which a patient’s urine is collected in a cup, and then analyzed using a color-banded or numbered dipstick. Such tests typically cost between $5 and $10.

By contrast, urine tests performed at a lab are much more sophisticated and can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000, billed to an insurance company.

According to Adler’s arrest affidavit, the alleged scheme worked as follows:

SMA would bill the patient’s insurance company and would pay Adler a cut of the lab’s insurance reimbursement. To ensure these payments weren’t traced directly to him, Adler set up a string of shell corporations to funnel the money.

One of the shell corporations, the affidavit says, had an agreement with SMA in which the lab would pay it 47.5 percent of the net collections.

The affidavit details the SMA payments, totaling $1.4 million over the two-year span.

Palm Beach sheriff deputies arrested Adler on March 29 on charges that he had a similar arrangement with Coastal Laboratory, LLC., a lab in Lake Park, prior to his dealings with SMA. According to the affidavit, Coastal paid him nearly $800,000 between April and December 2016.

“From February 2015 to February 2017, Coastal billed insurance companies more than $141 million for urinalysis testing of urine received from various sober homes, addiction treatment facilities and detox facilities,” the affidavit said.

Coastal, in turn, paid more than $3 million to nine facilities in kickbacks during 2016, the affidavit said.

Adler posted a $45,000 bond on April 10, records show.

Adler faces nine counts of first-degree patient brokering, 16 counts of third-degree patient brokering, and two counts of first-degree felony money laundering.

In South Florida, the substance abuse treatment industry has grown as more patients have moved here from other areas in the state and across the country. In 2017, Palm Beach County reported more than 500 overdose deaths.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.
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