3 facilities in Los Angeles and 1 in Orange County were searched by the FBI as part of criminal probe
By TERI SFORZA | firstname.lastname@example.org and TONY SAAVEDRA | email@example.com | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: October 7, 2019 at 6:47 pm | UPDATED: October 8, 2019 at 12:36 pm
Federal agents raided four addiction treatment centers in Los Angeles and Orange counties last week seeking evidence in a criminal probe, officials said Monday.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the reasons for searches at four locations — contained in probable-cause affidavits — were filed under seal in federal court, and the FBI would not comment further on the nature of the investigation.
Agents searched Malibu California Model Drug Treatment Center Inc., doing business as Inspire Malibu on Kanan Road in Agoura Hills; Progressive Recovery Solutions LLC, doing business as Victory Detox Center on Morse Avenue in North Hollywood; BLVD Centers Inc., doing business as BLVD-Sawtelle on Sawtelle Boulevard in Los Angeles; and Reflections Recovery LLC, doing business as Reflections Recovery on Bush Street in Santa Ana, according to Eimiller and data from the state Department of Health Care Services, which licenses and certifies addiction treatment centers.
Calls, emails and social media messages seeking comment from the rehab facilities and their representatives were not immediately returned Monday.
The raids echoed similar action at embattled Sovereign Health treatment centers in 2017.
Sovereign Health in San Clemente, Calif., was raided by federal agents in 2017. (Sam Gangwer/The Orange County Register)
FBI agents — which Sovereign denounced as “jack-booted thugs” — raided Sovereign facilities in San Clemente, Culver City, Palm Desert and San Juan Capistrano in June of that year. They were hunting for evidence of health care fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, “laundering of monetary instruments” and illegal payments for patient referrals, according to paperwork filed in federal court by attorneys for Sovereign.
Search warrants also were sealed for those Sovereign raids, but Sovereign filed suit demanding access to the underlying justification. The Sovereign warrants remain under seal, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which would not update the status of the Sovereign investigation. Sovereign has ceased operations, though its CEO now works with another treatment program, enraging some critics.
The Southern California News Group has chronicled disturbing reports of deaths, sexual assault, drug abuse and paying for patients inside California’s loosely regulated addiction treatment industry over the past several years. Those reports have prompted federal probes, an Orange County task force, a sober living registry and new state laws designed to protect vulnerable people struggling with addiction.
Bills aiming to tighten up regulation and standards for addiction treatment further are on the governor’s desk, and lawmakers are working on a major overhaul of the industry they hope to introduce next year.
It’s unclear if such practices had anything to do with Thursday’s raids at the four treatment facilities.
Inspire Malibu offers a state-of-the-art treatment program and evidence-based therapies to address both alcohol and substance abuse issues, according to its website.
North Hollywood’s Victory Detox Center strives to provide superior clinical care and recovery services “in an upscale, private and very personalized environment,” its website says.
BLVD operates rehabs in several locations, including the one searched on Sawtelle in West Los Angeles, and touts the benefits of going to a new place to recover from substance abuse issues.
Reflections in Orange County bills itself as an affordable outpatient facility in a community that understands the importance of substance abuse rehab and of giving productive people another chance.