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Former deputy started a cops' and soldiers' kids charity; then, he stole $49,000 from it

Robert Simeone

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By DAVID J. NEAL | Miami Herald | Published: May 21, 2020

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — A former Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy stole $49,037 from a charity he set up purportedly to help the children of cops, firefighters and military service people killed on on the job.

The Palm Beach State Attorney’s Sober Homes Task Force learned this about Robert Simeone, 49, between his busts for patient brokering activities involving drug treatment centers. The folks running one of those centers are up on manslaughter charges.

But that’s not among the buffet plate of charges to which Simeone pleaded guilty Tuesday: 26 counts of patient brokering, one count of conspiracy to commit patient brokering, two counts of money laundering, and one count of organized scheme to defraud over $50,000.

Buying patients and their insurance

State records list Simeone as the CEO of Epiphany’s Treatment Center in West Palm Beach from 2015 through 2018. During that time, the task force found, he entered into a patient brokering arrangement with Recovery Rocks sober home, paying Recovery Rocks managers to send addicts to Epiphany for treatment. He was arrested for that in 2017.

Simeone, known casually as “Bobby Simeone,” entered into a similar arrangement with Jennifer Swanson and Bradley Gaver, 45. They ran Pure Thoughts at Turtle Creek drug rehabilitation center to pay for their nonprofit horse rescue business and got $237,000 from Simeone, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Simeone ran as a Democrat for the District 85 seat in the state House of Representatives in 2016, but was trounced by Republican Rick Roth, who garnered 57.66% of the votes.

Swanson and Gaver are in the Palm Beach County Jail while awaiting resolution on charges of racketeering, patient brokering and three counts of negligent manslaughter — three of their residents died in their Turtle Creek facility, each death ruled by drug overdose.

Money for children of wounded warriors

While the task force looked into these matters, they discovered Simeone had created a nonprofit corporation called the National Foundation for Children of Wounded Warriors in 2011. He changed the name to Children of Wounded Warriors in 2013.

The probable cause affidavit says a thank you letter to a $10,000 donor said, “All over the world, children of military, law enforcement and firefighters profession are forgotten when a tragedy occurs with their mother or father during their service, hence, a loss of income. The Children of Wounded Warriors steps in and grants money to these children to continue their extracurricular activities that renew their minds and spirits and relieve them of the stress, anxiety and worry they can experience.”

Also, “We strive to maintain 80-85% of all donations are used for our grant program.”

The concept bore no resemblance to the actual execution.

Investigators found $73,556.46 had been deposited into the Children of Wounded Warriors account and $49,037.38 had been transferred out. Of the transferred dollars, $19,966 went to business accounts controlled by Simeone and $29,071.38 went to a personal account with the names of Simeone and his wife, who has not been charged. At times, the account balance sat at zero.

Epiphany accounts got $17,966 of that money and investigators noticed $14,747 of the wire transfers happened after Simeone got arrested on the Recovery Rocks patient brokering rap.

Simeone has been in Palm Beach County Jail since his February arrest over the charity.

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