Man arrested in sober home kickback scheme

South Florida Sun Sentinel |

--In the latest kickback scheme to involve urine testing, drug addicts and sober homes, federal authorities have charged a man with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

John Skeffington was arrested Wednesday, accused of paying people a percentage of insurance company payments for "excessive" and "medically unnecessary" testing of patients' urine since 2015, according to a federal complaint.

South Florida has become a destination for addicts seeking treatment. A single urine cup with extensive testing can cost an insurance company as much as $9,000, according to federal authorities.

Skeffington contracted with people who had connections to sober homes, and would route their urine to labs for expensive and fraudulent testing, authorities said. The labs gave him a kickback of insurance money, and he gave a portion to his sources, investigators allege.

The investigation began in late 2016 when authorities began looking into Kenneth Chatman, the ringleader of a massive fraud at sober homes and substance abuse treatment centers that he controlled in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

Chatman is serving 27 1/2 years in federal prison after having doctors order unnecessary urine and saliva tests for patients so he could fraudulently bill insurance companies.

Other defendants charged in the fraud pointed to Skeffington and his affiliated labs as part of the scheme, according to documents. A witness said Skeffington paid him a kickback for referrals to sober homes and addiction treatment centers that provided urine samples from patients with insurance.

It isn't clear how much money was involved, but records show multiple deposits in one of Skeffington's accounts ranging from $10,000 to $94,000 were made in the month of June alone, authorities said.

Skeffington's attorney, Lawrence Hashish, said his client would plead not guilty and fight the charges.

Skeffington was already on supervised release through when he was arrested Wednesday; authorities said he has been convicted on two unrelated accounts of mail fraud.

Skeffington appeared in federal court in West Palm Beach on Thursday morning. He is being held in jail without bond. The detention hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

His lawyer said he works at a furniture store; a woman answering the phone at Skeffington's Furniture and Mattress in West Palm Beach said Skeffington is her fiance and he manages the store., 954-572-2008 or Twitter @LisaHuriash


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