health as it happens

Feds charge Wellington woman linked to sober home kingpin in health insurance fraud case - Palm Beach Post

She ran five sober homes and is the latest person to be charged in the investigation into Kenny Chatman, now serving a 27-year prison sentence.


Nearly five years after notorious sober home operator Kenny Chatman was sentenced to 27 years in prison for using struggling addicts to get rich, a Wellington woman has been charged in connection with his lucrative scheme.

Marthe Hippolyte is accused of working with Chatman to bilk insurance companies out of $1.4 million, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach.

The 59-year-old, who operated five Turning Point sober homes in Delray Beach, Parkland and Deerfield Beach, accepted bribes and kickbacks from Chatman to refer insured patients to Reflections, his recovery center in Margate, federal prosecutors said. 

Chatman then billed the patients’ insurers for medically unnecessary and sometimes fraudulent tests. Prosecutors said they found checks in Hippolyte’s Turning Point bank accounts that had been signed by Chatman.

Kenneth Bailynson: Sober home owner Kenneth Bailynson pleads guilty in $31.3 million health care fraud scheme

Not guilty verdict: Jury finds first person charged with patient brokering not guilty of 119 counts

Overdose deaths: Palm Beach County overdose deaths rose by 23% in 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic

The “checks represented the payment of illegal kickbacks and bribes in exchange for the referral of residents of the Turning Point sober homes to Reflections,” prosecutors wrote.

Hippolyte is charged with conspiracy to violate the travel act, which is punishable by a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Passed by Congress in 1961 to crackdown on organized crime, the act makes it a federal crime to use phones, the mail and wire transfers in illegal schemes. It is increasingly used by federal prosecutors to charge people in health care scams.

Boca Raton attorney Howard Sohn, who represents Hippolyte, declined comment. Hippolyte has not appeared in court, and no appearance date has been set.

She is the latest person to be charged in connection with Chatman’s far-flung operation. Nearly a dozen of Chatman’s associates, including his wife, doctors and a former Marlins pitcher, were convicted of various charges.

Previously: Notorious treatment center operator Kenny Chatman gets 27 years in prison

When Chatman was sentenced in May 2017 after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, health care fraud and sex trafficking, federal prosecutors said he wasn’t the biggest player in South Florida’s illicit addiction recovery industry. However, they said he was the most dangerous.

In addition to raking in millions, he plied some of the women who came to him for help with drugs and turned them into prostitutes, prosecutors said. He had sex with them as well. If they got pregnant, he forced them to have abortions.

His brutal tactics were detailed in a 2015 investigation by The Palm Beach Post. Since then, federal and local authorities have cracked down on area sober home operators, patient recruiters and labs, arresting dozens of those involved.

[email protected]