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Tony Rackauckas, Orange County District Attorney
For months, the Sober Living-Home Investigation and Prosecution (SLIP) team of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) has been focused on finding solutions to address the criminal activity within the addiction treatment industry and restoring normalcy to OC neighborhoods that have been rocked by renegade addiction treatment facilities and sober living homes, some of which have impacted residents’ quality of life and public safety. Simply put, the desperate are exploited and young addicts are dying, leaving behind heartbroken family members. We must do everything we can to prevent loss of life and safeguard public safety.
This quickly growing industry is motivated by high-dollar insurance payouts gleaned by marketing a vulnerable population and luring them, oftentimes from outside the county, to Orange County for so-called treatment. Once their insurance runs out, they are put out on the street to relapse, oftentimes contributing the homeless population. This type of eviction has become so common within this industry it has been coined as “curbing.”
Through this effort, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas presented the Orange County Board of Supervisors (BOS) an ordinance for consideration on Oct. 16, 2018, which would allow the OCDA and the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) to create a registry of alcohol and drug treatment facilities and their affiliated entities in the unincorporated areas of the county. This necessary registry will require addiction treatment businesses to disclose information about the business, investors, and all affiliated parties including sober living homes. Having this pertinent information will allow the OCDA and the OCHCA to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate businesses in the addiction treatment industry. The BOS approved the first reading of the ordinance with only Supervisors Lisa Bartlett, Andrew Do, and Michelle Steel voting “yes.”
Days later, the OCDA filed an amendment making the ordinance applicable county-wide. On Oct. 23, District Attorney Rackauckas appeared before the BOS and the ordinance was tentatively approved with again, only Supervisors Lisa Bartlett, Andrew Do and Michelle Steel voting yes. Inexplicably, Supervisor Todd Spitzer was vocally non-supportive of the action, which would provide necessary information to the OCDA to crack down on illegal activities within the industry, making wild, unfounded accusations about the timing of the ordinance, placing costs over the needs of victims of addiction treatment abuse and their families whose lives are being impacted by unscrupulous business practices of the predatory rehab industry.
Chairman of the Board, Supervisor Andrew Do reigned Supervisor Spitzer in (view related video here, skip to 1 hour and 34 minutes) and rebuked him for his conduct and questioned Spitzer’s use of his position as a Supervisor for his own gain.
The final reading of the ordinance is on Nov. 6, 2018, at the regularly scheduled County Board of Supervisors meeting. If you or a loved one have been impacted by the underhanded businesses practices within the addiction treatment industry, contact Supervisors Shawn Nelson at 714.834.3440 and Spitzer at 714.834.3330 and urge them to support this ordinance.
Tony Rackauckas has served as the District Attorney of Orange County since 1998. He faces re-election for the position against OC Board Supervisor Todd Spitzer on Nov. 6.